Rice Lake problems

Frieda Kassner, Douglas

I have owned a cabin at Rice Lake for some years. Although my cabin has not experienced flooding, I feel deep sadness for those who have. I know that when the news coverage of the flooding at Rice Lake refers to homes being flooded, it upsets many people, because to them, they are not really homes but lake cabins. For the vast majority of us at Rice Lake, it is true the homes that the news refers to are not our primary residences, but they do represent a very important part of our lives. Families have owned cabins at Rice Lake that have been passed down from one generation to the next. They have watched their children grow up water skiing, fishing, swimming and just relaxing. The thing I enjoy most is the small community atmosphere where everyone knows each other and work to get along. I think of my cabin as a home away from home.

I’m not satisfied with the direction the Rice Lake Board and the Ward County Commission have taken regarding resolving the flooding at Rice Lake. Starting in 2011, they have pumped tens of millions of gallons of water to a detention pond northeast of Rice Lake only to watch the same water, weeks later, pour right back into the same lake that it’s being pumped out of. This has come at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Part of the original pumping plan to the northeast was to allow lot owners to raise or move structures like cabins and homes.

Now, three years later, few have been moved or raised. The proposed permanent solution pipeline project to Douglas only transfers the problem onto a group of farmers and ranchers who didn’t ask for it, of which I too, am one. No one knows the true cost of the 11.5 mile pipeline or the long-term effects of prolonged pumping of the Douglas Aquifer which Rice Lake is a part of. For two years we, as landowners have watched as surveyors have trespassed on our land without permission or even notice of entry. Some of the property owners received one letter requesting an easement which, at the same time, threatened legal action if it wasn’t signed. The next notice they received was from the Rice Lake Board in the form of a legal summons notifying them that Rice Lake was suing them for eminent domain. I also don’t like it when I hear it’s OK because they are just farmers.

What I find interesting is that the Ward County Water Resource Board is donating $25,000 to Rice Lake for more temporary pumping to the northeast. So in other words, we have a donation from the WCWRB to pump water in a circle. Is the water board also going to make continual donations for the operation and maintenance of this proposed 11.5 mile multimillion dollar pipeline?