Lake outlet projects underway

Lake outlet projects underway

The LID board has been working on ways to lower water levels for several years

The Little McDonald Kerbs Paul Lake Outlet Project is about 20 percent complete, and scheduled to be finished by August, according to Lake Improvement District (LID) board members James Esser and Joe Nigg.

Both serve on a joint project committee between the LMKP LID and the Devil's Lake LID.

Devil's Lake and Little McDonald Lake will each have a pumphouse and a pipeline running from them that will eventually join together and then continue onto the Otter Tail River. Five miles of pipeline are being built to lower water levels on Devils Lake, Little McDonald Lake, Paul Lake and Kerbs Lake.

"This was the best combined route for both our LID and the Devil Lakes LID," Nigg said. "Paul Lake will connect to Little Mac through Rusch Lake and Kerbs Lake will also get the relief it needs."

 image credits:  PerhamFocus

image credits: PerhamFocus

In Otter Tail County there are several systems similar to the one being installed. Nigg said the county will run the system and the Devil's Lake LID and LMKP LID will maintain it. The LID board has been working on ways to lower water levels for several years, which have been high on the lakes for decades, causing problems for homeowners. Once the pumps are operating, they estimate it will take about three years for the lakes to get to what is considered ordinary high levels.

The LIDs requested and received $10 million in bond funding from the Minnesota Legislature to pay for the project. The rest of the money for the project and maintenance will come from the LID, which is run similar to a township.

Esser, a life-long lake resident, described how he's seen the rising lake water affect residents since he was a kid.

"A person who lived just down the road from my parents on Paul Lake moved a structure back from the lake three times because of rising lake water, before I even started high school," he said. "People have continued to adjust until they just couldn't adjust anymore and something needed to be done."

While his current house is high enough that rising water shouldn't affect it, he didn't like seeing the effect on his neighbors.

"One reason I got on board, I watched a guy living along the shore, he had to park his car in the street and put boots on to walk into his house. He shouldn't have to do that in his retirement years," Esser said.

Nigg said the records go back to 1964 for water levels, and the all-time high was Aug. 2, 2011, at 54.75 inches above ordinary high.

Nigg pointed out, for those who think people are building too close to the water, they aren't. Many houses were built in the 1960s, such as his, and had plenty of room before the lakes started rising. He had to fill in his basement and turn it into a crawl space.

While there is not a definitive reason for the decades long rise of the lake water, one theory comes from a geologist who lives on Dead Lake. "He did an analysis and the lakes naturally drain out towards the river underground through Perham, but that path has been changed by the growth of the city, industry in town, irrigation fields, and the dams that went from Little Pine to Big Pine and Big Pine to Rush Lake, were changed," Esser said.

But he emphasized, that's a theory, and it's hard to say for certain what is the true cause of the rising lake water.

Both men agreed it's great to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the project after all the hours everyone has put into it.

"And quite the learning experience for our board members who are retired people, dealing with things that weren't within our normal everyday job, from all the different permits to DNR regulations," Nigg said. "It was something different every week."

They both said the townships and landowners were great to work with, as were the government agencies and companies who let them use their land for the pipeline.

"We appreciate everyone who was willing to work with us, it made the process easier," Esser said.

By Kimberly Brasel

Source, credits & more information: PerhamFocus

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