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This map shows the location of proposed outlets for Boyer and LaBelle lakes.

Lake outlets for Boyer, LaBelle?

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With all the recent talk about the possibility of another spring flood in Fargo-Moorhead, it might be possible to overlook the fact that Becker County could soon be faced with a serious flooding problem all its own.

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Specifically, Boyer Lake near Lake Park has the potential to overflow its banks and put a portion of Highway 10 underwater.

The highway was already raised a few years ago because of the rising waters of Boyer Lake.

"It (Boyer Lake) only has to come up inches from where it was last year, and Highway 10 is going to be affected," said Bruce Albright, administrator of the Buffalo Red River Watershed District.

To avoid the possibility that Highway 10 might be "inundated by water," the BRRWD is working with area legislators to obtain 50 percent state funding on a $270,000 flood control project.

But the flood control project would solve more than just the potential flooding problem on Highway 10, Albright noted.

If approved, the project would provide an outlet not only for Boyer (and Little Boyer) Lake, but for nearby LaBelle Lake as well. The lakes, which currently have no outlet, would then drain into Becker County Ditch 9, and eventually into the Buffalo River.

This new outlet would also help to mitigate high water and erosion problems, on both lakes as well as on adjacent roads within the watershed -- which includes Highway 10.

The other possibility for controlling the high water problems on Highway 10, Albright noted, would be to raise the roadbed of the highway itself -- a project that could cost well over $1 million.

By contrast, he said, the flood control project would cost roughly a third of that amount -- and would provide a more permanent solution to the drainage problem, said Albright.

When he met with Gov. Tim Pawlenty just before Christmas, to discuss the possibility of funding for the project, Pawlenty initially told him, "It's a road problem," Albright said.

But after going over the proposed project with Pawlenty -- and how it might be done for a third of the cost of raising the highway -- Albright said the governor indicated that he understood what they were trying to do.

Of course, what it all boils down to is whether the Legislature is able to find the money to fund the project -- a particularly difficult challenge with the state's current budget woes.

But Albright is optimistic that if the BRRWD can have the project "ready to go" by the time the current legislative session ends in May, they might stand a better chance of "rising to the top" of the funding list.

To get to that point, however, the watershed district will need to "complete the legal process" of developing an outlet. This process would include a re-determination of benefits to surrounding landowners -- County Ditch 9 being one of the potential beneficiaries, Albright noted.

"Once the appraisers are finished, we would go to a hearing with the affected landowners, and pending a favorable response, we'd be ready to begin installing the outlet by June 1," Albright said.

Though the BRRWD is currently working on "four or five" other flood control projects within the watershed, he noted, "We've moved Boyer/LaBelle up to the top of the list."

One of the reasons for that, Albright said, is the fact that the specter of closing Highway 10 due to flooding might spur legislators to act in their favor.

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Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 14 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 844-1454
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