Sheyenne River water flows are expected to increase early this week as water pumped from the east end of Devils Lake begins arriving, said Schueneman manager of the Baldhill Dam for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Friday Schueneman said North Dakota once again Monday began pumping water out of the east end of the lake into the Sheyenne River after repairing a pump that was out of action.
Schueneman said as of Friday, the river was going through Valley City at a rate of 300 cubic feet per second. “When it (water being pumped out of Devils Lake) arrives, it will be up in the 500 cfs range,” Schueneman said.
Schueneman said on Friday the Sheyenne River water depth at Valley City was 5.2 feet.
At present, the dam is releasing water from the dam into the lower Sheyenne at the same flow rate as it enters Lake Ashtabula.
“Normally we’ve started our (fall/winter) drawdown on Oct. 1, but at North Dakota’s request, we are delaying until pumps are shut down. Then we can begin our fall and winter drawdown,” Schueneman said.
“They (North Dakota) will stop the pumps (moving water from DevilsLake into the Sheyenne River) at significant freeze -– probably early to mid November,” Shueneman said.
“The pumps are not cold water pumps,” Schueneman said.
Based on current dry conditions in North Dakota, Schueneman said he would normally be releasing water from Lake Ashtabula at 65 cfs over inflows of about 30 cfs during the fall/winter drawdown, or about one-fifth of the flows he expects this week once water from the east end of Devils Lake reaches Valley City.
Schueneman said a combination of drought conditions over the summer plus pumping of lake water into the Sheyenne River has brought the depth of Devils Lake water down about 3 feet this season.
On Monday Devils Lake was at 1,451.4 feet. The record depth was 1,454.3 feet set on June 27, 2011.
Water pumping from the west end of Devils Lake into the Sheyenne River at 250 cfs was never shut off. Pumping from the east end into the Sheyenne River is supposed to happen at a maximum of 350 cfs.
In 2011, the Corps took down the water level in the Lake Ashtabula reservoir seven feet from the normal summer elevation of 1,266 feet. At that time, Schueneman said the reservoir was being drawn down seven feet to free up enough room so when the snow melt comes in the spring, the dam can capture it.