WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 14, 2011, 10:53 AM

Farms near Milnor threatened by rising lake

Milnor, ND (WDAY TV) - It's an idyllic setting for a farm, just off a small lake in Sargent County. Except now, that lake is not so small and it is threatening the farm itself.

Bobcats scurry around the Erickson Farm just south of Milnor.

EDWIN ERICKSON - Sargent County Farmer: “Water is running across country and it really came up and really has been a bugger here so.”

This is the water from Buffalo Lake fed by the Crooked Creek.

EDWIN ERICKSON - Sargent County Farmer: “This lake here is about 50 feet out here and it is raised between 13 and 15 feet.”

The rising water is carrying off items around the farm.

EDWIN ERICKSON - Sargent County Farmer: “We had a Pontoon Here and it left us and there's tractor tires and everything floating out.”

Erickson's Neighbors are also fending off the rising waters

COLIN STOCKSTAD - Sargent County Resident: “Well right now it's with in inches of touching the corner of my house, so it's getting a little hairy.”

The water is coming up 5 inches a day. The problem is the water can't leave the lake as fast as it comes in.

“The inlet is twice as big as the outlet.”

This water here in Forman is headed towards the Erickson Farm. The Crooked Creek drains an area of 120 square miles and Erickson thinks that the culverts are just too small to relieve all that water and he's hoping the county will make them bigger.

STEVE WYUM - Sargent County Commissioner: “We are in a dire situation as far as funding. All of the flood issues we're dealing with and we've dealt with since 1997.”

Besides not having money to expand the culverts, the county is also concerned that allowing more water through could cause problems for downstream neighbors and farms. So as Erickson looks over the culvert causing the problems, he makes a discovery.

“Look at there, there's that pontoon. Our pontoon is on the lake.”

As you saw in that last story, Forman, North Dakota is also dealing with flood waters. Overland flooding is pushing up against the west side of town. One house in town is completely surrounded by water.

Rising water has forced the building of a small levee behind the high school. The town had no any water problems, until last weekend.

SANDY HANSON - Sargent County Emergency Manager: “That inch of rain, which doesn't sound like a lot, ended up to cause quite a hectic day on Sunday. We came into to town and the community came forward, and we secured up our sand bag dikes.”

Hanson says it usually takes a while for the water to leave town because of a lack of natural drainage.