January 01, 2013

Love that Dirty Water: EPA’s Water Transfers Rule

Jonathan P. Scoll
Well I love that Dirty Water
Oh, Boston, you’re my home
—The Standells, 1966

Devils Lake is aptly named. A landlocked lake in east central North Dakota, it has fluctuated wildly in size: From 140 square miles in 1867, it shrank to a mere ten square miles in 1940. Then, inexplicably and inexorably, it began filling again. By June 2011, it had risen more than fifty feet, overspreading 211,000 acres, or about 330 square miles. As its level has risen, so has the urgency to drain it—somewhere, anywhere—and the only receiving body, fifteen miles to the south, is the nearly pristine Sheyenne River, a tributary of the Red River of the North. A pump system installed by the North Dakota State Water Commission (SWC) at the west end of the lake became operational in 2005, with a current capacity to pump 250 cubic feet per second (cfs) of Devils Lake water into the Sheyenne.

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