County Board - Rice Lake Issues - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

County Board - Rice Lake Issues

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A small lake that's caused big problems with high water in recent years is rising again.

Rice Lake's level has increased by a foot in the past week, inundating another three homes on its expanding shoreline.

The lake located southwest of Minot began flooding a few years ago and has now damaged or destroyed about 30 homes.

Today, the head of the Rice Lake Board met with county commissioners today, seeking agreement on a lease of 53 acres of land to the north of Rice Lake.

That's where property owners have been pumping water from the lake in the past couple of years.

Today, Steve Zaun was asking for permission to, once-again, pump water from the lake in a continuing battle he calls a "war" against the advancing water.

(Steve Zaun, Rice Lake Board) "This in no longer a flood, this is a war. Last Saturday I stood and had people crying in my arms again because we lost three more homes. I don't know where the end of this war is, I really don't, I haven't been in a lot of wars in my life. But I know we have 167 people, there's 36 permanent homeowners down there, and some have their entire life savings invested in property that continues to go under water."

Commissioners first considered charging $100 per acre for the 53 acres of county-owned land where water will be pumped.

But commissioner Jack Nybakken argued for a lower rate.

(Jack Nybakken, Ward County Commissioner) "I just take into consideration how we've been helping them for over two years now, and considering what their expenses are and what they're going to be, I would like to see it lower than that amount."

(Jerome Gruenberg, Ward County Commissioner) "These people are in a bad way down there and it may not seem like it's fair to the rest of the county but it's part of our job to help these people - to do what we can."

In the end, commissioners voted to charge $50 per acre for the land.

The two-year lease is designed to last until the Rice Lake Board has finished work on a permanent outlet to the south, although the status of that outlet is in doubt due to a pending lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the road that rings the lake is being raised about two more feet on both the north and south end of the lake.

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