Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource Board abandons gravity outlet plan

Louise Oleson, Editor
Jeff Frith

The Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource Board met in Rolla on Wednesday morning and voted to abandon their efforts for a gravity outlet from Devils Lake.

It was by no means an easy decision for that entity to make considering they’d been asked by the governor to lead the charge for the outlet.

The project initially was estimated at $17 million, however following testing and delays that figure had grown to an estimate of $23.5 million and could even go higher, according to Frith.

“If they got in there and found that the ground water was higher than expected, they might determine that the entire thing needed lining and that would double the cost,” he added.

The DLBJWR Board simply doesn’t have the financial resources to cover what would be the local cost, whether it be 10 percent or 15 percent or more.

As a body the board did come out in favor of using the control structure, which is already built and operational, to help prevent catastrophic outflows and to clean out the Tolna Coulee allowing the water to flow through the natural outlet and channel.

A statement submitted by manager Jeff Frith states, “The board felt that the estimated cost of $23.5 million was way more than they could afford, even at a greatly reduced local cost share.  The Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource Board would however fully back any and all efforts to remove water via the natural Tolna Coulee utilizing the current and existing control structure and we look forward to working with the State Water Commission and the Governor’s Office on this endeavor.”