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By Nathan Bowe, nbowe@dlnewspapers.com, Published May 08 2010

Boyer Lake drawdown could start soon

With sandbags protecting U.S. Highway 10 from the lapping waters of Boyer Lake, the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District is moving fast to build an outlet.

The lake, which has been rising for years, is located about two miles east of Lake Park, Minn.

The Sunnyside Nursing Home sits on its shores.

Using “fast track” authority granted to watershed districts, a bid opening is planned for Monday. If the low bid is reasonably close to engineer estimates, construction will likely begin later next week.

The bid stipulates that “there needs to be water running by June 15,” said Bruce Albright, administrator of the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District.

The contractor will have until Aug. 1 to finish the project, but water needs to be moving out of Boyer Lake by next month, he said.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation spent nearly

$1 million to raise Highway 10 in 2003 because it was threatened by the rising Boyer Lake.

The outlet project is projected to cost $288,000.

MnDOT will pay about $160,000 of the project cost. The watershed district will pick up about $70,000 from its general fund, and benefited property owners will pick up about $40,000. That includes townships and benefiting road authorities, including Becker County.

About 45 people attended a recent meeting in Lake Park and agreed the watershed district should take action, Albright said.

Once the outlet is operating, the water level will be reduced three or four feet. Watershed engineers estimate the lake level will recede about 10 inches a month.

“I keep hearing from people that we’re going to drain Boyer Lake,” Albright said. “We’re not going to drain Boyer Lake. It’s to control the water level. All outlet projects have a gate, and if there’s flooding downstream, we’ll shut the gate.”

The project also will provide an outlet for nearby LaBelle Lake.

Nathan Bowe is a reporter at the Detroit Lakes (Minn.) Tribune, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.