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COMMENTS BY KIM: Prepare for low water

Water levels, water quality

I’m fairly certain almost everyone is aware of how dry this season is that seasonal outlooks favor more of the same in the coming months. While drought conditions are a serious concern for farmers and ranchers, the effects of several months of well below-normal precipitation reaches out in a variety of ways.

Water levels in lakes and reservoirs in the state are down, in some place quite a bit down. Sure, we’ve experienced lower water levels, but it has been a while. Lake Sakakawea, the state’s largest body of water, is hovering around the 1,834.5 mark. According to the latest projections by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the reservoir should peak this summer slightly over, 1,838 feet.

While 1,834.5 isn’t particularly low by historic standards for Lake Sakakawea, it is an attention-getter. Boaters will find a few challenges on the big reservoir due to the dropping water level but, overall, just a little extra attention will go a long ways toward preventing any major accidents to propellers and lower units of outboard motors.

Lake Sakakawea has been low before. In fact, much lower. It was under 1,810 for many months from 2006-2008. Some will remember driving a long distance across dry lake bed to reach a boat ramp. Yuk!

Other lakes and rivers in the state are showing the effects of dry conditions too. Lake Darling is down. Lake Metigoshe is down. Devils Lake is down. Again, anyone on the water needs to exercise caution to avoid encountering low water obstructions. Without any significant rainfall, conditions are likely to worsen as the summer months progress.

River flows are concerning, or rather the lack of flow. In many cases water movement is needed to maintain aquatic life, from tiny bugs to bigger fish.

It was great this week to see Central Campus biology students doing sampling of the Souris River in Minot. Those students will soon become decision-makers in our community and are becoming infinitely more knowledgeable about the environment in which we live. That’s comforting to know.

Meanwhile, let’s all hope and pray for rain. We need it. Lots of it. Enjoy your time on the water this summer, use caution, avoid all obstacles, and remember the importance of water and water quality to all of us.

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