Water Board Keeps Moving on Projects

The majority of Monday’s regular meeting of the Barnes County Water Resource District was spent reviewing the status of past, present and future water projects the board has been involved with in the county.
The expansion of local lakes has been a frequent focus of the board and Monday was no exception.

In the northwest corner of the county, a possible outlet on Ten Mile Lake has been discussed between the board and area landowners for several months now. The board decided to seek a bond from the lakeside residents to cover the cost of an engineering investigation into an outlet that would run north out of the lake. Not all landowners have been quick to jump on board about ponying up the cash for the initial stage of the project.

“If we’re going to do this, we have to push it,” board president Jeff McMillan said.

West of Valley City, Hobart Lake has been threatening grain elevators at Berea and a route to drain the lake into the Sheyenne River south of Valley City has been roughly scoped out, but again, funding is another matter.

Mike Opat from Moore Engineering Inc. in West Fargo, said there are cost share dollars from the State Water Commission and an available grant, but the SWC wants a report on the downstream impacts before proceeding with the grant process. The first step in completing the engineering report was for the board to decide on what size pipe to use in the outlet, which would be a mix of underground pipes and natural overland drainage chutes. The board decided on a 36-inch pipe with a control structure.

West of Hobart, a successful but temporary drain was installed on the north end of Sanborn Lake with funding help from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway company last year. For a permanent drain permit, the board must receive flowage easements from affected landowners between the outlet and the Sheyenne River north of Valley City, and one landowner who has lost land to the outlet has refused to sign an easement unless the board agrees to put in a crossing on his land. The board’s lawyer, Sean Fredericks, sent the landowner’s lawyer a letter insisting that the board will oblige, and they are currently waiting for a response.

A proposed outlet on Meadow Lake in southwestern Barnes County “is not looking pretty” due to a lack of funding, according to water board secretary Jamie Smith. Water board member Pat Hurley recently met with Gov. Jack Dalrymple and the SWC seeking a cost-share agreement for an outlet that would drain into the James River in southern Stutsman County. Hurley won over the state officials, but Smith said it is unlikely the project will be approved for a Hazard Mitigation Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Even with the state funds, we won’t have enough,” she said, and McMillan said the project could cost more than $1 million.

On the bright side, Opat said state officials had inspected the Clausen Springs Dam and gave it an initial glowing review. A full review will be sent out in a month or two.

Opat said two things the inspectors found were that weed control was needed and the gates had to be lockable, both of which the engineer and the board were already aware of.