Senator John Hoeven met on Friday with officials of the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to discuss comprehensive flood management for the Souris River Basin. Specifically, the senator asked agency officials to provide a timely evaluation of the feasibility of increasing water storage capacity on Lake Darling as part of a larger approach to flood mitigation in Minot and the river valley.
Hoeven said a comprehensive flood protection plan should include several key components:
- Permanent flood protection structures, such as dikes, levees and diversions, as well as home buy-outs.
- An updated water management plan between the United States and Canada through a revision of the 1989 International Agreement for the Souris River Basin.
- More water retention and storage capacity where possible and cost effective for Minot and the Souris River Valley.
The Senator urged Maj. Gen. John Peabody, U.S. Army Corps Commander of the Mississippi Valley Division, and Jim Kurth, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chief of National Wildlife Refuge System, to work together as expeditiously as possible to evaluate the feasibility of enlarging the Lake Darling reservoir to create greater retention during critical flood events as part of the total flood protection effort.
Peabody indicated that he would provide a timeline on when they will have an answer regarding the feasibility of storing more water in Lake Darling in time for a scheduled follow-up meeting with Hoeven in Washington on March 6. Kurth of the U.S. Forest Service will also attend.
“It is vital that officials responsible for dam management work as quickly and collaboratively as possible to provide the information we need to move forward on a comprehensive long-term plan to protect people and property throughout the Souris River Basin,” Hoeven said. “With regard to Lake Darling, we need to know specifically how soon we can get an answer on the cost and feasibility of storing more water at Lake Darling, in order to determine if that can be part of the total flood protection effort, along with a revised flood management agreement between Canada and the United States..”
Hoeven and Gov. Jack Dalrymple last week met with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall in Regina, Saskatchewan, to advance flood protection plans for the Souris River Basin. The North Dakota and Canadian leaders discussed the management of three upstream Canadian dams, finalization of the province’s 2012 flood protection plans, and work to improve long-term flood protections. Saskatchewan officials said they have lowered the Rafferty and Alameda reservoirs in preparation for spring runoff and they are prepared to create additional storage capacity if snow accumulations make it necessary.