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Forum editorial: More good science at Devils Lake

A collaborative study by North Dakota and the Province of Manitoba concluded there are no invasive species of fish or plants in the waters of Devils Lake that could harm Manitoba waters. The findings are good news for supporters of the Devils Lak...

A collaborative study by North Dakota and the Province of Manitoba concluded there are no invasive species of fish or plants in the waters of Devils Lake that could harm Manitoba waters. The findings are good news for supporters of the Devils Lake outlet and another repudiation of the outlet's detractors.

The flood control outlet operated briefly last fall. It connects Devils Lake to the Sheyenne River. It's designed to remove a few inches per year from the lake, which has been rising steadily for a dozen years, and has caused millions of dollars in flood damages. The outlet is one element of a comprehensive Devils Lake Basin lake level control and flood mitigation plan.

A few obsessive opponents of the Devils Lake outlet remain unconvinced by a fat file of good research that the outlet will not harm the Sheyenne and other waters in the Red River drainage. Their agenda is not informed by science done in North Dakota, let alone sound cross-border scientific conclusions. They certainly should be chastened by the new study, but the findings of the collaborative likely will not change their minds. Their initial stance on the outlet was flawed and they're not about to concede that point. Their self-serving opposition flows from selective manipulation of data. They are not going to own up to such purposeful distortions.

The study's sampling tested Devils Lake water for a dozen fish and plant species that both U.S. and Canadian officials said were reasons for concern. The study detected none, which is what North Dakota officials had predicted.

Manitoba officials are not completely satisfied the outlet is safe for their waters. They remain worried about the possibility of fish parasites and algae types getting into Canadian waters. But North Dakota officials said those organisms may already be in Canadian waters.

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Nevertheless, a more sophisticated filter might be in order. The spirit of cooperation between the province and the state suggests North Dakota should do all it can to address Manitoba's concerns. A shared funding mechanism for a filter that would better trap parasites and algae might be the best way to go in order to maintain a good working relationship.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board.

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