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Senior Contributor

Re: flooding in N.D.

I was surprised to read that the drought in1988 was a very major killer and in the record books, killing 10,000 from the excessive heat. The deaths were mainly in the Chicago area.

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Senior Contributor

Re: flooding in N.D.

That is why I wouldn't want to live below a dam. You just can't outrun if one should break. Some just don't comprehend the power of water and you can't always protect ignorance. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: flooding in N.D.


@manureseller wrote:

The lake has grown so large over the last 20+ years it is outrageous!  There is a outlet that goes into Canada but most of the time it isn't running due to fights with the Canadians.  Devils Lake and Stump Lake are now 1 big lake with only a small eroding dam pretty much holding the entire lake back from massive distruction of down streams towns and farmland.  If the silt should break loose there would be such a massive and fast flood that loss of life would be astrinomical. 


Are those the salt lakes that have no outlet, at least natural outlet?

Was there a court fight over the outlet that was dug?

Have to check out my history on that.

 

BTW Winnipeg does not need any more water either, they are busy sand bagging now.

Why has the lake grown? More rain in the last 20 years? or has it been cooler so less evaporation? 

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Veteran Contributor

Re: flooding in N.D.

We've been in a continous wet cycle for the past 20+ years.  Yes we've had a few dry years but not enough help.  According to old timers there was a natural outlet to Devils Lake but back in the early 30's it was silted in and farmed over.  I don't know how much of that is fact.  The outlet into Canada has had court battles over running and I can't blame our northern neighbors...like you said, Winnipeg doesn't need anymore water either.  Canada and the US need to sit down and figure some of this out though because the dikes that were built on the Canadian side are also wreaking havoc on the US side.  Towns have been moved or bought out and let go to the lake and they are talking about suspending Amtrak service soon to a portion of the state because the tracks around Devils Lake will be under water. 

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Honored Advisor

Re: flooding in N.D.

Do not know if it's applicable in your region or not, but I've learned a lot about water bodies and storm runoff from my river basin/now "watershed" volunteer work. 

Increased hardscape with impervious materials - roads, buildings and parking lots - greatly increases runoff in areas where rain used to soak into the ground.  I've seen some before and after photos of small, formerly pretty sedate creeks in Raleigh that now present serious flash flood potential. 

Changes in land use - deforestation, as one prominent example - can greatly alter runoff, as well.  When big stands of large trees are harvested or suffer fire damage, rain hits the ground more directly, and there is less ground litter to cushion the drops, absorb the flow, and slow its course. 

Even changes in land management in agricultural fields can change the way water acts...no-till certainly provides more of a ground cover to control runoff, than does a plowed parcel.  Our field borders and waterways look virtually new on our grassland-planted fields, even thought they were instally almost fifteen years ago.  Most of the farms that have similar structures on tilled cropland have to re-do the drainages every few years, and NRCS privides costshares for periodic maintenance. 

If you were to examine the patterns of land cover and use over the peirod of time, and juxtapose that with precipitation data, you might see better why the lakes are on the rise.  In our region, the problem is more with overpopulation, and near-constant water shortages in those populous areas.  This was resulted in protracted legal and political battles over water rights.  Coming soon to a watershed near you....

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Senior Contributor

Re: Devil's lake

When I read your post I had memories of news about that and the Canadian government taking someone to court over trying to drain it into the Red River system.

Did a little looking and did not find anything about court issues.

I did find this article though. Apparently Devil's lake last flowed into the Red River system about 1800 years ago. That was the last time it filled the basin deep enough to flow out. Last time water was deep enough for the two lakes to become one was in the 1820ies.

Probably that was the reason there is opposition to draining it to the Red River basin.

Somewhere in my memory I thought the lakes were salt lakes because they naturally lower their levels through evaporation and seepage into the ground but could not find info on the salinity.

It sounds like the high water is a natural happening in the long cycle of earth's weather patterns but is still some way from flowing into the Red River basin, at least naturally.

If you are interested this is what I found

Geologists at the North Dakota Geological Survey and at the University of North Dakota have been able to work out a somewhat generalized history of the fluctuations in the level of the lake since it formed 10,000 years ago. The accompanying time/event diagram shows that, during that time, Devils Lake has overflowed to the Sheyenne River about 8 or 10 times. It most recently spilled into the Sheyenne River about 1800 years ago and before that about 2500 years ago and between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago. The lake has risen high enough to overflow into Stump Lake numerous times (probably many more times than the diagram shows because there isn’t any way to identify all of the high-water levels since each succeeding high-water level has tended to obliterate the record of previous high-water marks). The most recent time that Devils Lake overflowed into Stump Lake was in the mid 1820's. It’s also a near certainty that many of the times the lake rose high enough to overflow into Stump Lake it continued to rise several feet higher, although not necessarily high enough to spill into the Sheyenne River. There isn’t any way to know how often this happened either.

https://www.dmr.nd.gov/ndgs/Devils_Lake/Orgin_Devils_Lake.htm

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Senior Contributor

Re: flooding in N.D.


@manureseller wrote:

 Canada and the US need to sit down and figure some of this out though because the dikes that were built on the Canadian side are also wreaking havoc on the US side.  Towns have been moved or bought out and let go to the lake and they are talking about suspending Amtrak service soon to a portion of the state because the tracks around Devils Lake will be under water. 


This comment of yours sent me trying to find the Committee that oversees water issues around the Great Lakes to see if it applied to other areas.

Without knowing the name I stumbled on this site

  http://www.canadians.org/water/issues/Devils_Lake/index.html  which is about Devils lake.

It includes this

The Devils Lake outlet in North Dakota is a unilateral U.S. action that has been condemned by Manitoba and environmentalists on both sides of the border.

The Devils Lake outlet is a 23-kilometer diversion designed to address chronic flooding by draining water into the Sheyenne River, which flows east into the Red River. The Red then carries the water north to Lake Winnipeg, the world’s 10th largest freshwater lake.

Manitoba maintains that Devils Lake contains organisms that are foreign and possibly harmful to Manitoba waters, which could negatively impact the province’s fishing and tourism industries. The 1909 International Boundary Waters Treaty prevents the flow of polluted water across the U.S.- Canada border.

In August 2005, after a protracted diplomatic dispute, the White House and Ottawa reached an agreement that included a commitment to install a permanent filter, estimated to cost $18 million US or more.

Despite public outcry, North Dakota opened the Devils Lake outlet on August 15, 2005. But the outlet operated for only 10 days, because sulphate levels forced North Dakota to shut off the taps.

 

So there is a (manmade) diversion channel now but the water is too high in sulphates to dump into the Red River basin.

And I did find the 'water commission' that I was looking for and it is called The International Joint Commission  http://ijc.org/en/home/main_accueil.htm

It is referenced in the first site I found in this clip

Clearly, Canada and the U.S. need a workable solution for settling water fights. Up until recently, that solution was the International Joint Commission (IJC), the binational referee on shared water issues, made up of an equal number of representatives from both countries. But the power of the IJC has been eroded by unilateral U.S. action in cases like the Devils Lake diversion

 

BTW any dikes on the Canadian side will have no impact on Devils lake as it is a separate system, does not get water from Canada, unless it is rain and snow.

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Highlighted
Veteran Contributor

Re: flooding in N.D.

Sorry, I was rambling in my last post... when I mentioned the Candaian dikes I was talking about those along the northern boarder in the Red River Valley.  Once you get along the boarder, especially the Pembina area there are issues with dikes on the Canadian side not letting the water run on the US side.  There's got to be a way to work things out but once you get the gov. involved a workable solution is YEARS in the making.

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Senior Contributor

Re: flooding in N.D.


@manureseller wrote:

Sorry, I was rambling in my last post... when I mentioned the Candaian dikes I was talking about those along the northern boarder in the Red River Valley.  Once you get along the boarder, especially the Pembina area there are issues with dikes on the Canadian side not letting the water run on the US side.  There's got to be a way to work things out but once you get the gov. involved a workable solution is YEARS in the making.


Working things out is what the joint commission should be doing but as the site I posted indicated if one side does something unilaterally then the other side is not so quick to respond when another issue comes up.

I have always thought anytime one person dikes or even sandbags around their house they are causing the water to rise higher somewhere else.

Winnipeg built a floodway to help the water 'rush' through their city and then it floods more land north of the city according to residents there. If Winnipeg did not have the floodway there would maybe be more flooding south of the city and certainly in the city.

The Red River system has the disadvantage that it flows north.

Meltwater from the south flows towards an area that tends to be colder than where it originates so more ice and ice jams and more flooding as the water follows the melt north compared to a river flowing south where it melts then receives the water from north of the melt at a later date.

Rivers in Russia suffer this regularly because they flow north into still frozen areas with huge areas flooding.

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Contributor

Re: flooding in N.D.

The lake has risen because of a wet spell that started in 1993, since then in ne ND we have had one dry year and only a few 'normal' ones.  I don't know the exact numbers but would guess that during this wet spell we have averaged 150 - 200% of normal precip of the 70s and 80s.  Drown out, late planting and wet harvests have been the main reasons for crop loss instead of lack of moisture like it usually was before.   Devlis lake doesn't have a natual outlet untill it rises about another 8 feet, then will flow into a nearby river causing some awful flooding downstream.

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