Devil's Lake (North Dakota)
For other things named Devils Lake, see Devils Lake (disambiguation)
Devils Lake is the largest lake in North Dakota, located between Ramsey County and Benson County. The City of Devils Lake, North Dakota takes its name from the lake. In 2004, it reached a historical high elevation of 1449.1 ft (441.69 m), an area of 216 mi2 (560 km2), and a volume of 2.7 million acre-feet (3.3 km³).
Devils Lake is a terminal lake in a drainage basin of some 3,300 mi2 (8,600 km2). Above a level of some 1446 ft (441 m) AMSL the lake spills into neighboring Stump Lake. At 1459 ft (445 m) the lake flows naturally into the Sheyenne River. During the most recent wet cycle which began in 1993, the lake rose over 26.5 ft (8.1 m), inundating an additional 140 mi2 (363 km2) of primarily agricultural land, necessitating the expenditure of over $400 million in flood protection measures.
Since 1993 the lake has been rising rapidly, leading some to call for a emergency outlet into the Sheyenne River. The North Dakota State government under Governor John Hoeven started construction on such an outlet in 2003. North Dakota was granted a Section 402 NDPDES Permit by the North Dakota Department of Health in 2003, to ensure that operation of the outlet would not violate water quality standards of the Sheyenne or Red Rivers. This action has drawn fire from Minnesota and Manitoba, who claim that it would create the potential for unacceptable levels of sulfates in the river, and the potential for the transfer of unknown aquatic species, as the outlet would release untreated water from the lake into the Red River basin.
In March of 2004, Manitoba, along with Minnesota and several environmental groups, sued the Department of Health over the Devils Lake Outlet 402 NDPDES Permit. In August of 2004, their claims were rejected by a North Dakota District Judge. An appeal was filed, which is currently pending.
Hoeven's policy, after consultations with Manitoba and Minnesota, and invitations to participate in special environmental reviews, was to pursue unilateral construction of the outlet, which, with limited state funding, will be less costly than another proposal from the Army Corps of Engineers, and does not contain features such as a sand filter, but is faster and simpler in solving the issue of the lake's rising waters. The federal outlet would draw water from a different point of the lake, and would have been able to discharge a maximum of 300 ft³/s (8 m³/s) of water from Devils Lake, versus the state outlet, which is limited by the Section 402 NDPDES Permit, to a maximum of 100 ft³/s (2.8 m³/s). Outlet construction is expected to be completed by the summer of 2005, with operation to follow.
Sully's Hill National Game Preserve is located on the lake's southern shore. Spirit Lake Indian Reservation occupies most of the southern shore. Grahams Island State Park is located on an island in the lake. Other parks on the lake include Black Tiger State Recreation Area and Shelvers Grove State Recreation Area