Forgotten owners

Gerald Fredriksen, Minot

Why have property owners on the north side of Rice Lake been forgotten since mid-June 2011?

You have pumped water uphill into a well-known aquifer to the northeast. This water, due to its huge volume above Rice Lake, causes overpressured underground rivers and springs to drain back underground through our properties. This water drains out of our hills in little rivers, draining back to the lake constantly, even through winter months.

Rice Lake has increased in water level the past two winters. This isn’t normal.

We feel that pumps have been run for two years at a “great expense” to all cabin owners and haven’t changed the volume of water in the lake. More or less just recycling Rice Lake water uphill above the lake and back to the lake.

A lot of Rice Lake flooding could be caused by manmade mistakes.

First mistake: N.D. State Water Board recommends to Rice Lake Service District in May or early June 2011 to pump short term to south to natural drainage. About mid-June 2011, Rice Lake Service District starts to pump uphill to the northeast onto Ward County property, which sits directly above Douglas Aquifer.

Second mistake: The building of a roadway across the southeast end of Rice Lake in the fall of 2011. A culvert is installed in roadway, but a commercial plug was installed prior to spring of 2012. This effectively derives Rice Lake of any natural drainage to the south. Drainage of Rice Lake and Douglas Aquifer is north to south.

Third mistake: Rice Lake Service District pumping illegally from June 2011 until July 2012. No N.D. State Water permit to drain Rice Lake. (In North Dakota to drain any water over 80 acres you need a N.D. State Permit.) If they would have applied for this permit, the N.D. Water Board would have reviewed and offered their expertise into this matter.

Fact: Rice Lake Service District engineer suggest that in order to drain Rice Lake by mechanical draw-down you would have to pump water 3.5 miles east or 3 miles west. Any water pumped north, south, east and west closer than this could cause drainback to lake through aquifer thus recycling water back to Rice Lake.

Fact: Last summer, 2012, two lakes south of Rice Lace dropped significantly on their own without pumping. These are Tangedahl Lake and Vernon Lake. They also are Douglas Aquifer lakes.

Due to unfavorable support from area landowners about Rice Lake Service District idea of draining Rice Lake and Douglas Aquifer eventually by pipe Douglas Lake and eventually Missouri River was suggested.

At Ward County Commissioner meeting on April 23, 2013, lake property owners came up with other permanent solutions to relieve these problems.

Here are a few suggestions.

How about stopping pumping, letting the water table and aquifer balance again at lake level. Raising and fixing properties affected through loans and funding by Flood Emergency money still available to Ward County flood victims.

How about removing plug in culvert and provide drainage to south through agreements with landowners involved. This would again provide natural drainage.

How about contacting oil companies that have shown interest in hauling Rice Lake water away from the lake for fracking of state oil wells. How about connecting to NAWS Pipeline?

Maybe we should consider dollars and cents and common sense in this matter and keep it affordable for all people involved. There are a lot of “good neighbors” at Rice Lake, including farmers and other taxpayers of Ward County and everyone should be treated with respect, fairness and thoughtfulness in this very important matter of protecting and conserving one of our most valuable natural resources water.