‘The problems get harder as the water goes higher!’

Louise Oleson, Editor
Congressman Earl Pomeroy led a round of applause for Devils Lake Mayor Fred Bott. Bott is retiring after serving as the city’s mayor for 20 years.

Thanks to a second snowstorm bearing down on Washington DC in a week, Congressman Earl Pomeroy was able to come to Devils Lake to hear first-hand about what is happening around the shores of Devils Lake and Stump Lake.

“Votes were scheduled for these days, but with the storm heading our way, Washington has virtually shut down. That gave me the opportunity to come here,” he said to a gathering of officials and residents in the basement meeting room of the Ramsey County Courthouse.

It was arranged rather hastily, but the gathering brought together a good cross section. There were representatives from all around Devils Lake including the mayors of Devils Lake and Minnewaukan, county commissioners from Ramsey, Nelson, Benson and Towner counties, city commissioners from communities that border the lake, members of the ND?Department of Transportation, the Spirit Lake Nation and several individual landowners.

Around the table, reports were given to update the congressman on the current situation and what may be coming as spring thaw nears. By all estimates the lake is slated to rise again this year, the question is, how much will it rise?

Ramsey County Commissioner Joe Belford said the estimates are 90 percent that the lake will get to 1,451, sixty percent it will get to 1,451.6 and 20 percent it will rise to 1,452, but a new prediction from the National Weather Service is expected next Friday. Belford said when that comes out, those figures will change.

When all was said and done Pomeroy commented, “The problems get harder as the water goes higher!”

He promised to continue working with local leaders to protect Devils Lake and the surrounding area from rising water. “There is no easy fix, no silver bullet that will make this all go away,” he said.

Jeff Frith from the Joint Basin Water Board said, “I think the number 1,452 is conservative and we should be planning for 1,453 instead.”

Devils Lake has risen more than 27 feet in the last 17 years, including 3.5 feet this spring, and currently stands at 1,450.7 feet.

Congressman Pomeroy has worked with his colleagues in the North Dakota congressional delegation to secure $125 million in federal funding to raise an embankment that protects the city of Devils Lake to a level of 1,465 feet. He has also helped secure $70 million in federal funding to improve roads that act as dams and replace temporary emergency levees.

Congressman Earl Pomeroy was in Devils Lake on Wednesday for a meeting with local officials and residents to discuss flooding and what’s ahead for the spring of 2010.