Okay, here it is one week after the session ended and there has been a change brought on by the Governor. He vetoed the $10,000 that was going to go to every township outside of the oil producing counties. You may recall that it was to arrive August 1st but for one year only and the money was to have come from the Strategic Investment and Improvements fund as well as the Disaster Relief fund. The Governor’s stated rationale was two-fold; it had no hearing (it was an effort from a conference committee) and he also felt that with North Dakota facing such a budget shortfall, everyone had to take a hit. Seeing as there was no special funding last biennium for township roads, this time is now the same as last. The announcement also contained wording to the effect that without demonstrated evidence of differentiated need or want, this equal appropriation across the board was not only arbitrary but an inefficient use of scarce funds.
Yesterday I journeyed to Carrington to attend the annual Devils Lake Management Advisory Committee Meeting. The takeaway is that the relatively dry/mild late winter and spring has eased what was a serious concern after our big snowy December. Still, the lake is forecast to reach around 1,452 feet this year – the record is 2 feet higher. In recent past years, the acknowledged agreed upon level to try to achieve was 1,448 feet.
Now the state is measuring flows in the Sheyenne River that are acceptable to be able to begin pumping from Devil’s Lake. Even the most aggrieved parties in the Devils Lake basin, those farmers who lost so much land (the rough estimate is 10,000 acres lost for every foot of rise), took time to thank the state for the pumping. While a few mentioned that 1,446 feet would be better for ag producers, all know that is not going to happen this year. So, the difficult balance between those that would like to keep the lake up for water quality and recreation versus the producers will always be there.
Minnesota, whose only concern is the health of the Red River and Manitoba, who is also concerned about sulfates and other pollutants because of about 50,000 citizens who tap it for drinking water, also sent representatives. The meeting was chaired by the new State Water Engineer, Garland Erbele, who made every attempt to give all a chance to air their opinions. The governor’s advisor was there, as well as Game and Fish, Garrison Diversion folks and many others. Expect pumping to begin this week or next. May you enjoy this beautiful stretch of planting weather.