Water Management to Court? - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Water Management to Court?

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Reservoirs along the Souris-Mouse River system are ready for the spring 2014 runoff season.

The levels of lakes that provide flood protection are where they are required to be, based on the 1989 agreement governing river management.

But one rancher who's been battling flood water for two of the last three years thinks more needs to be done.

And he's ready to go to court to get something done.

Two times in the past three years, Lynn Kongslie has watched as the Mouse River flooded his pasture land - taking it out of production for the year. He says he couldn't survive a repeat this spring.

(Lynn Kongslie, Towner Area Rancher) "We can't sit here and not have production off our land three years in a row and it doesn't seem like anyone can hear us."

That's why he's considering legal action against the agencies that oversee river management.

(Lynn Kongslie, Towner Area Rancher) "If we can't reach some avenue of not dumping that sort of water on us I don't think we can afford simply to keep taking it."

He gives as an example what happened last year when a very snowy February and March led to early, significant releases from the reservoirs when the river was still frozen in his downstream area.

(Lynn Kongslie, Towner Area Rancher) "You can't send that kind of water down frozen river, frozen culverts, everything's frozen solid and you can't do it."

The result was flooding of his pastures and the added expense of buying hay for feeding his herd.

(Lynn Kongslie, Towner Area Rancher) "They send 2800 CFS in April on me and the rest of the producers downstream of Minot and cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to these producers."

Knogslie thinks the target levels of the reservoirs could be lowered a few feet to allow more storage. He says the lakes would refill by early summer...

(Lynn Kongslie, Towner Area Rancher) "And if they didn't would that be the end of the world? Instead of doing this kind of damage down here - and the people of Minot. We're at the same place we were in 2011."

Of course in 2011, the highest levels ever recorded on the Mouse River wiped out farm and ranch land - and thousands of homes along its course. Kongslie is hoping the conditions that led to that flood - heavy rains that followed a high snowpack melt season - aren't repeated this year. But he wonders if hope is really enough.

(Lynn Kongslie, Towner Area Rancher) "Can we depend on that? Or should we use some common sense."

Or, he says, it may all end up in a courtroom. Near Towner, Jim Olson, KX News.

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