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Lake continues to bedevil state, Canada

North Dakota State Roundup

Published January 1, 2000  |  January 2000 issue

A helicopter tour in November did little to soften the attitudes of Manitoba's premier about the swelling Devils Lake. The Canadian province, which receives the waters of the Red River, is not (yet) interested in receiving the diverted waters of Devils Lake.

During the past decade Devils Lake—without a natural outlet—has risen 23 feet, flooding thousands of acres and causing millions of dollars in damage. The state has grown impatient with studies, proposals and plans, and is eager to finally address the problem. State officials warn that if the lake continues to fill the problem will resolve itself and the waters will spill into natural outlets that could eventually find their way to Canada.

A better solution, they argue, is to create an outlet that will control flow into the Red River and Sheyenne River, which drains into the Red, and will ensure better water quality for Canada.

Because North Dakota and Manitoba remain at odds over an outlet plan, some have suggested that the International Joint Commission resolve the dispute. The IJC was formed in 1909 to settle questions about boundary waters between Canada and the United States. But North Dakota officials worry that such a step will only delay matters. As of this writing, a resolution was not imminent.

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