Richard Betting letter: Time to plug drains in Devils Lake area
In a recent letter to The Forum, Carol Hart explained that water tables in northeastern North Dakota are higher than normal. While she speculates that the Rush Lake Basin, Devils Lake, Sheyenne, and Red River basins are all interconnected, the re...
In a recent letter to The Forum, Carol Hart explained that water tables in northeastern North Dakota are higher than normal.
While she speculates that the Rush Lake Basin, Devils Lake, Sheyenne, and Red River basins are all interconnected, the real cause remains unknown.
Hart does conclude that "drainage is a contributing factor to flooding in the Devils Lake Basin."
Some facts to support that conclusion: The North Dakota State Water Commission approved more than 23,700 drains in the upper Devils Lake basin prior to 1985. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that at least 187,000 upper basin wetland acres have been drained.
Since drainage does add to flooding downstream and since drained wetlands no longer serve to prevent water from adding to flooding on Devils Lake, it is probably time to implement the third leg of the "three-legged stool" approach to deal with Devils Lake flooding and restore drained wetlands. That's right, close some of the drains.
Obviously, some of the 187,000 drained acres could hold 18 inches of water. Restoring drained wetlands would mean keeping water out of the lake.
Each wetland acre restored could mean a foot and a half of water prevented from reaching Devils Lake every summer.
Since the present outlet will not prevent Devils Lake from rising or overflowing, the only effective solution left seems to be to close some of the drains in the upper basin. The sooner people realize that, the sooner an effective solution can be implemented.