Mouse River managment

Vern Kongslie, Towner

In May 2013, the Mouse River Basin Preservation Coalition was created to help our government agencies be aware of the flooding issues downstream and upstream of Minot and Burlington. MRBPC objective is to bring the flow of the Mouse River in North Dakota (Souris River in Canada) to a manageable level which has the least amount of flooding to the rural areas. This includes the elimination of the financial impact to agriculture land and farmsteads, rural residents and their property or businesses, and small town economies. We will mandate the responsible United States Government Agencies and North Dakota Government Agencies to develop a workable risk flood management plan to reduce the flooding of the Mouse River. This includes a short term solution of establishing a financial assistance program to assist agriculture losses and other property owners who have lost significant income or property damage from the flooding. I am chairman of the MRBPC.

One of the most controversial issues in the last few years are the Canadian dams that were built about 20 years ago. Our government and taxpayers gave Canada $52 million to help build these dams which we were told to control the flooding in N.D. We all know what happened in 2011 and these dams did nothing to prevent the flooding of over 4,000 homes and the destruction of infrastructure in the entire Mouse River Basin. So many people were misguided that they were protected by these dams that they cancelled their flood insurance. By 2011 only about 7 percent of the people in the Mouse River Basin had flood insurance. In fact these dams since they were built have extended the flooding through most of the summer and fall due to mismanagement.

The problem with dams is if you store spring runoff in them to reduce the peak flows in the spring then you must get rid of the water and that is causing major damage downstream of these dams. The stored water needs to be held until late fall and released from December through April at a manageable flow that will do no damage. There has been some proposals to raise Lake Darling or build more dams. Our coalition is against these proposals. This would only store more water in the spring runoff and that would increase more extended flooding downstream in late spring and summer as the water was released. More water needs to released in the winter and early spring.

Rural farmsteads and rural residents need assistance in relocating their homes and buildings. Ring diking might work in some cases but of course that is not 100 percent flood protection because water can go over dikes or through them. Relocation assistance should be offered to those that prefer that option. Some rural residents need assistance with their access roads with additional culverts or raising them. County and township roads are going to need attention also.

There are many more issues to deal with and I would probably end up with a 10-page letter if I tried to list everything. Our coalition will have representatives attending public meetings by our government agencies to voice our concerns and issues that need attention. Our coalition will have board members like myself to voice those concerns to our government officials and lobby for these concerns and issues. It will probably be a slow process but we must not give up and we must be relentless so we can achieve our goals. We must let our government officials know that we exist and we want the right thing done for the people in the Mouse River Basin.