EPA to adjust water standards for outlet

Staff reports

Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan and Congressman Earl Pomeroy announced Friday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to their request to permanently adjust the water quality standard on the upper Sheyenne River.  The move will help increase operation of the west end outlet and help efforts to take additional water off of Devils Lake.

"This is a significant step forward.  The news today about the EPA granting our request and adjusting the water quality standard is a clear indication that progress is being made in the Devils Lake Basin," the delegation said in a joint statement.

The delegation had an hour-long conversation last week with Vice President Joe Biden focused on Devils Lake. They discussed the EPA decision to permanently adjust the sulfate standard on the upper Shey-enne River from 450 to 750 mg/l.  The Vice President also emphasized the administration's commitment to Devils Lake and surrounding communities, noting the Depar-tment of Education's $6 million grant this week to move the Minnewaukan School away from the rising waters of Devils Lake.

Additionally, the administration just received a letter from the State of North Dakota this week formally requesting that the EPA relax the water quality standards on the lower reaches of the Sheyenne River.  

As a result, the federal working group tasked with developing options to tackle the Devils Lake flooding has requested additional time to respond to the State's request in its final report. The federal working group also asked for additional time to incorporate issues raised by the congressional delegation in a Sept. 7 letter after the Sept. 3 working group meeting with North Dakota leaders.

“I spoke at length with the North Dakota Congressional Delegation this morning about the issues under review by the Devils Lake Working Group.  The State of North Dakota just formally requested that the EPA make additional water quality standard changes; that request is being reviewed, and the Devils Lake Working Group needs time to respond to it," Vice President Biden said.  "In our call today, Senators Conrad and Dorgan, and Representative Pomeroy voiced their strong determination to find workable answers to the challenges in the Devils Lake Basin.”  

"As we all know, the challenges we face in Devils Lake are very real. They demand a timely, and tangible response. The EPA decision and the funding for the relocation of the Minnewaukan School are a good start, but much more needs to be done," the delegation said.