Water issues raise questions

Arden Haner, Douglas

My subject today is water management and flood control.

Let me start at the beginning. The N.D. Legislature formed the State Water Commission in 1957. That law also set up water boards in each county with three members for each county appointed by the county commissioners. This was later changed to allow counties to go to five-member boards.

Water Law is in Chapter 61 if you go online. Under 61-01-04 the code addresses eminent domain. Key words are beneficial uses and least damage. Who created the idea that transferring a problem from Area A to Area B or C became a solution?

I will list a few: Devils Lake to Valley City; Canada to Minot 2011; Garrison Dam to Bismarck 2011; Rice Lake to Douglas and livestock operations in planning stage with approved funding from state.

How can our governor accept the transfer idea?

I’m sorry for getting so forgetful. The governor has been blindsided by a fellow from Minot who is related to a fellow from Bismarck who manages or controls every water board in the state. In fact this was the fellow who changed the law so that people who wanted to control a board could have their friends apply. Law says will apply. One happy family. In fact, at one time in Ward County a fellow from the old-folks home was appointed (with a recommendation).

I’ll now touch on the flood of 2011 at Minot.

It really began in 2009. (Something like Ole when his barn caught on fire and he waited two hours to call for help.) In times of high precipitation, both rain and snow, self-serving leaders asked Canada to hold the extra water. Great for fishing in Canada. While this is being done the local water board and the Joint Water Board are all sleeping in the back room. Bad statement! Let’s check and find out how much money was spent on dike repair or how many times they made adjustments to the operating plan during the three prior years. Understand they are all buddies covering each others’ back (except one).

They start the 2011 flood with Burlington Dam closed and full, all gate wells are open with gates and pumps froze down and inoperable. All dead loops and holding areas were filled first. The city had no choice but to call Canada and ask them to hold the water and they tried. Mother Nature took over from there.

It is so bad in Ward County today that over half of the county is without representation on the water board the southern portion. Then they allow a contractor, who is related to a water board member, to come into my township and mitigate wetlands for DOT on the northeast tributary of Douglas Creek. No notice to the township. No hearing. My how things work. There is a member of the water board who works for DOT. Self-serving and happy family indeed.

I find it hard to believe that a region that needs water from the Missouri River is so busy trying to step on anyone who could help make it happen. It appears they are enjoying the wait.

The water board wasted one-half million dollars on recreation instead of flood control. Everyone is a loser.

Then they promoted building in the flood plain. Once the flood got a good start they went out and started building dikes that caused even more damage.

The public needs to know the WAWS is well on its way in one year and NAWS is dead still after 20 years. Who said it pays to fight? What if the local water board were to follow Century Code and work toward common good. I doubt if this board can ever abstain from threats to property owners.

If you analyze the secret meetings along with false charges against property owners and the altering of documents you will be surprised. One of these individuals has gone so far that all of Freedom Township is in the Souris River Flood Plain (Type A at elevation 2150). Compare this to the highest flow through Minot in 2011. What is the mentality?

I could go on but it won’t change the end of the day. They moved to shrink the flood plain in 1995 and now they move to expand that line. They should settle on a line that makes a little sense.

I would like an answer to the question as to how moving a flooding problem to another area can be of beneficial use to the area you move it to?

In the past you needed a cost benefit ratio of 1 to 1 in order to start a project. Today they come with state funds and eminent domain. We used to need an environmental impact study and hold hearings. We used to check high water marks, old tree lines and old records including precipitation from the past.

An aquifer used to be considered to be a valuable resource to be protected for residential, industrial and irrigation uses. The Ward County Water Board has approved the project to pump Rice Lake to the Missouri River. This could include part of the aquifer.

At this point let me bring the rubber to the road. The distance to Douglas is 10 miles and the distance to Douglas Bay using Douglas Creek about 15 miles more through private property causing damages. The distance to an empty NAWS Pipeline is less than 11 miles and they could charge for pumping costs. This way you keep the fight in your own yard.