Corps takes charge of dam releases

Facing a forecast of a one-in-10 flood event, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took over management of Lake Darling from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for flood control purposes Tuesday.

The Corps is releasing 450 cubic feet of water per second from Lake Darling Dam and plans to make adjustments if conditions change. The release was 250 cfs a week ago.

“The Corps feels that it’s very manageable. The drawdowns are virtually implemented on all the reservoirs both here and in Canada,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in Minot Wednesday. “Overall, I get the feeling that everybody is doing a little extra on the drawdowns because of two years ago.”

Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman said he welcomed the Corps’ involvement.

“People are nervous in Minot,” he said. “I feel good that it’s switched over so we can start looking at flood control.”

He added that Minot residents need to be kept informed regarding the level of threat and actions being taken. Minot’s 1-in-100 flood protection is capable of easily handling a one-in-10 event, but there needs to be monitoring as the area heads into a season when heavy rain or rapid runoff could pose concerns, he said.

Zimbelman said he hopes to organize a state and local delegation to travel to Canada in the next couple of weeks to assess the snowpack in the Souris River Basin and talk with Canadian officials.

“I would just like to sit down face to face with some of the folks in Estevan they were flooded, too and see how they feel,” he said. “Everybody wants to work together.”

Dalrymple hosted a conference call to discuss the conditions for Souris River spring runoff. Officials participating included Saskatchewan Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff, Saskatchewan Water Security Agency president Wayne Dybvig, International Souris River Board member John Fahlman, North Dakota State Engineer Todd Sando, Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman, Ward County Commission chairman Jack Nybakken, Souris River Joint Board chairman Dave Ashley, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Michael Price, Minot city council members and Ward County commission members.

Officials with the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency said they plan to provide officials in North Dakota with real-time rainfall data. Gauges to provide that data were absent in 2011 when a major rain event precipitated flooding.

Canadian officials said recent snowfall has led them to increase water releases from the Boundary and Rafferty dams to maintain adequate reservoir capacity during spring runoff.