Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Sheyenne River puts communities on edge

FARGO - Much like the Red River saw recently, heavy snowfall in north-central North Dakota has made for lots of extra moisture in the Sheyenne River.

Sheyenne River

FARGO - Much like the Red River saw recently, heavy snowfall in north-central North Dakota has made for lots of extra moisture in the Sheyenne River.

That's put several communities on edge in the southeast part of the state, and residents there will remain in flood-fighting mode for the foreseeable future, officials have said.

Although Devils Lake is the most well-known point of flood concerns in northern North Dakota, the Sheyenne River encompasses a separate water system with its own issues.

The Sheyenne River begins some 180 miles northwest of Fargo in a sparsely populated area of north-central North Dakota.

There's no exact origin point, but the river's headwaters stem from wetlands west of Sheyenne Lake, about 10 miles north of McClusky, said Gregg Wiche of the U.S. Geological Survey.


From there, the Sheyenne flows generally eastward south of Devils Lake before veering south near McVille.

Runoff from the surrounding region either flows into the Sheyenne or Devils Lake, never both.

The Devils Lake and Sheyenne River basins are only connected through a manmade outlet constructed to control the level of Devils Lake, Wiche said.

But if Devils Lake naturally overflows - which occurs once the lake reaches 1,458 feet - then its flood problems would drain into the Sheyenne and downstream communities in southeastern North Dakota, Wiche said.

The National Weather Service said the lake was at 1,452.74 feet above sea level as of Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the moisture-drenched snowpack of north-central North Dakota, where the Sheyenne begins, has sparked a spring melt that sent water levels down the river spiking to near-record levels.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials have tried managing the influx of water from the north by controlling the flows out of Baldhill Dam, north of Valley City.

Nonetheless, the amount of water coming down the pike sent Valley City in a frenzy last week as it prepared for record flooding. Lisbon and Kindred area residents are bracing for similar issues this week.


The Sheyenne naturally overflows near Kindred, creating widespread overland flooding southwest and northwest of Fargo.

The message to residents from government officials has been a consistent one: Prepare to deal with a lot of water, for a long time.

Horace and West Fargo residents are shielded from overland flooding problems, thanks to the Sheyenne River diversion.

West Fargo Public Works Director Barry Johnson said crews will monitor the diversion for any issues until the waters recede.

Outside the diversion, north of West Fargo, overland floodwaters take over the land again, as the Sheyenne River makes its way north past Harwood where it eventually dumps into the Red River.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

What To Read Next
Get Local