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Published July 25, 2012, 09:58 AM

Erosion monitoring ordered for Devils Lake outlet

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's chief water engineer has ordered more extensive erosion monitoring for a new outlet that's designed to drain excess water from Devils Lake.

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's chief water engineer has ordered more extensive erosion monitoring for a new outlet that's designed to drain excess water from Devils Lake.

Since 2005, the state Water Commission has operated an outlet from the west end of Devils Lake. The lake has quadrupled in surface area and risen more than 30 feet since the early 1990s, the result of increased snow and rain and farm land drainage.

The lake has no natural outlet until it reaches 1,458 feet above sea level, at which point it will begin to spill naturally into the Sheyenne River. State officials say that result could be disastrous and have been working to head off the prospect.

As of Wednesday, the lake stood at 1,452.8 feet above sea level.

In an attempt to remove more water from the lake, the Legislature agreed to finance construction of an outlet on the lake's east end, using an existing channel called the Tolna Coulee.

Opponents of the east-end outlet have protested the project, saying it would cause flooding, soil erosion and a degradation of the Sheyenne River's water quality. They requested a hearing on its operating permit, which was held last month.

The Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that Todd Sando, the Water Commission's chief engineer, affirmed the state permit while making some changes to its operating plan.

One change is to monitor erosion in the Tolna Coulee from the discharge point of the east Devils Lake outlet to where the outlet's channel joins the Sheyenne River.

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