Mouse River to Run All Winter - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Mouse River to Run All Winter

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The wet year has many people wondering about the flood chances for next spring.

And it has river managers making plans to move water through the Mouse River system this winter at a higher rate than ever.

Jim Olson reports on early efforts to get a handle on potentially high river levels next year.

Minot has received a record amount of precipitation in 2013 according to the North Central Research Extension Center's records. And it's been a wet year in southern Saskatchewan too.

(Frank Durbian, Souris Basin NWR Complex Project Leader) "Those late summer rains in Canada really stacked some water up in there."

Frank Durbian is in charge of Upper Souris and Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuges - one sits on the Mouse River near where it enters North Dakota and the other dumps river water across the border back into Canada near Westhope. Both are busy managing the wet year right now. At the downstream refuge - Clark Salyer - they're moving 1000 CFS of water out to allow work on small dams on the river.

Meanwhile, at Upper Souris, Lake Darling Dam is open right now - something that's rare for this time of year. It's sending 275 CFS of water into the river channel that runs through Minot after the output had been dropped for a time this fall.

(Frank Durbian, Souris Basin NWR Complex Project Leader) "Earlier in the year when folks were trying to get hay and crops off in the bottoms down below Minot we decreased releases to about 100 so we could help them out and now we're going to make up some ground throughout the winter."

That means there'll be much more water running through the Mouse River this winter - about 275 CFS all winter long compared with the 75 that ran most of last winter. The idea is to get all reservoirs - in Canada and in the US - at their desired level by February First, when any needed flood operations can begin. And this past spring provided a glimpse of what can be done with later winter releases.

(Frank Durbian, Souris Basin NWR Complex Project Leader) "It was a good test of what we can do at least up to those limits."

That test involved sending nearly 1000 CFS out of Lake Darling, even when ice covered the Mouse River.

(Frank Durbian, Souris Basin NWR Complex Project Leader) "I think everybody involved from Canada down through the United States was very pleased with the lack of ice jamming and lack of issues with the river. Basically it melted just fine, didn't create any large ice jams, didn't cause any trouble. It went surprisingly well which is a good thing to know for future management."

That high release rate in March was necessitated by sudden major snowstorms in the river valley in Canada and the US in February and March. And it showed that if there's a similar high snowpack this year, the river can handle those historically high March releases well and make room for whatever water might follow in the spring of 2014.

Durbian says the volume of water running in the Mouse River this winter shouldn't cause major ice danger, because it will be at a constant flow and will allow solid ice to form.

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