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Marc Halvorson, West Fargo, Published August 13 2012

Expensive Stump Lake gravity flow channel is waste of money

With the ongoing effort from the North Dakota State Water Commission to build a 200-foot-wide gravity flow channel through my property, I felt it appropriate to inform the general public regarding the status of the Stump Lake Gravity Flow Channel.

The only project that is pending is the Stump Lake channel proposed by the Devils Lake Water Resource Board and the North Dakota State Water Commission. As one of the landowners involved in the injunction to deny access to the proposed channel, we initially informed the board and the commission that a high water table existed in the area of the proposed channel. The bore drillings from Braun Intertec Corp. on the proposed gravity channel in fact showed that a high water table existed on the proposed site. The report went on to say the proposed channel excavation would be as much as 20 feet or more below groundwater and channel stability analysis indicated that a channel/natural soil system will have a factor of safety that is below the typical limit for this type of construction.

The report goes on to say that, based on conversations with the North Dakota State Water Commission, “consideration is also being given to constructing an underground enclosed channel, such as a concrete pipe or box culvert, rather than an open channel. The design and construction issues associated with an underground enclosed channel would be less than those of the open channel.” In other words, an underground enclosed channel would cost less money. Apparently, this means nothing to Gov. Jack Dalrymple and the commission.

Our state has three projects that are completed and functioning on Devils Lake at a total cost of approximately $125 million, give or take a million or two. As a result of the Devils Lake east-end pipeline outlet, downstream landowners on the Tolna Coulee are currently receiving approximately 350 cubic feet per second of water through their properties. This has diminished access to our properties and damaged fences with no compensation whatsoever from the commission.

Gov. Dalrymple and the commission are still bound and determined to spend

$17 million or more on the Stump Lake channel. Do we really need another outlet? Is this project necessary? I don’t think it’s necessary. I really don’t need or want a 200-foot-wide channel cutting through my property. I can’t speak for my neighbors, but I believe they share some of my views. The lesser of two evils would be the underground enclosed channel at a cheaper cost to the taxpayers of our state. Landowners would also have the ability to continue farming over the underground enclosed channel and accessing our adjacent properties would not be an issue.

I would hope that common sense prevails and that Gov. Dalrymple and the commission will stop spending my taxpayer dollars on this project. The Stump Lake channel is not necessary.