Rice Lake concerns

Gerald Fredriksen Sr., Rice Lake

Rice Lake, over the years, has been a fun, special place for area people to enjoy camping, fishing, swimming and other outdoor activities. Rice Lake was unique because even in dry years it maintained a good water level. It’s water was known for being clear, clean and safe for the public which was due to natural artesian springs on the north end of Rice Lake.

Rice Lake had some flood issues in the early 1900s but until 2011 it hadn’t had any major extended flood issues.

In July 2011, like many rivers and lakes in North Dakota, due to high amounts of snow and spring rains, Rice Lake would have flooding to some low-lying properties.

A small group of people at Rice Lake in June 2011 took it upon themselves to try to pump Rice Lake’s water uphill to storage above Rice Lake to the northeast.

This was done with no environmental impact study or N.D. Water Resource Board permit to drain over 80 acres.

This water, due to its huge volume above Rice Lake, causes overpressurized underground streams and springs to drain back underground through our properties on the northeast end of Rice Lake. This “recycling effect” has continued non-stop since July 2011. Rice Lake has risen every winter since 2011; this is very unusual.

At a Ward County Commissioners meeting on April 23, 2013, it was suggested that lake property owners come up with some ideas to help fix Rice Lake’s flood problems. These are my ideas:

1. Stop mechanical pumping at Rice Lake to storage above Rice Lake to the north. The pumping and storing of water in the artesian area of Rice Lake and Douglas Aquifer could be creating major problems. Have an environmental study done.

2. Keep the southeast corner of Rice Lake open and unblocked so Rice Lake can drain to its natural outlet. Any water absorbed into ground south of Rice Lake will go directly into Douglas Aquifer which flows naturally north to south and will take Rice Lake water underground to the south.

3. How about contacting oil companies that have shown interest in hauling Rice Lake’s water away from the lake for fracking N.D. oil wells? Every gallon hauled away would help.

4. Impose a moratorium; do not allow any new dwellings to be built below the natural outlet elevation.

5. Address sewer concerns. Build up any portion of the sewer system that is in danger of being overcome by flooding to permanent status at above flood stage levels. Water levels of any lake can vary from year to year. This is a common sense issue.

What has been tried at Rice Lake for the past four years hasn’t worked and we as property owners, with help from our neighbors and friends, have to work for the common good of everyone. We need new ideas and a lot of help from Mother Nature to return Rice Lake back to its balance with natural and natural state prior to 2011.