We're not anticipating any major flood event this year - but we are prepared to deal with problems that might develop.
That's how Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman describes the city's plans for this spring.
The mayor has won a concession from the Corps of Engineers to drop the level of Lake Darling a foot lower than prescribed in the international agreement governing management of the river.
Perry Olson reports that while he's happy with that...he'd like to see even more -- and may just get his wish.
Lake Darling dam -- right now -- is releasing 2800 cubic feet of water per second...and Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman wants to keep it right there...it is building storage space in the lone reservoir on the system in America. This morning, the plan was to changed to bring Lake Darling's level to 1592 -- an extra one foot drop...but the Mayor doesn't want to stop there.
(Curt Zimbelman - Mayor of Minot) "But it is our intention to keep asking for that extra foot because I think now is the time as long as we are not harming anyone downstream anymore than we are now...we need to keep the valve open until we get at least another foot out of there."
Zimbelman wants another foot...to 1591...at least. In fact, he would like to see releases stay basically where they are -- after all...any flood issues caused by releases at 2800 have already been experienced downstream of the dam now.
(Curt Zimbelman - Mayor of Minot) "We've been talking about trying to get a new management plan. To me this would be a great time to experiment with that. How low can we go and still make this work."
Corps officials on the phone from their office in St. Paul said they have agreed to one extra foot...but no more now. And once the 1592 level is achieved...it will operate the dam like this...
(Col. Bergmann - US Army Corps of Engineers) "Basically the inflows will equal the outflows when we reach our target level. This will continue until the melt begins and we have a readjustment of our assessment of what we need to do."
It will take about a week to drop another foot...but what if in that week, inflows to Darling are still less than 2800? Why not keep releases there...creating extra space for spring melt storage? Maj. General David Sprynczynatyck -- representing the governor at today's meeting -- applied some pressure...saying that might still happen.
(Maj. Gen. David Spr) "As this week continues on and we reach a point say five or ten days from now and everyone feels contrastable that we can continue...I think that is a likelihood."
For now, all are just hoping for a slow melt -- and a river to stay controlled...as the mayor stressed...is expected. In Minot, Perry Olson, KX News.
How about the other river in the system...the Des Lacs?
Burlington Mayor Jerome Gruenberg said plans are in place to clear areas near that small river to make it easier to get large equipment to should the need for levees arise.