Bureau of Reclamation Banner

Tony Wahl and Dale Lentz. 2010. "Travel to Devils Lake, ND to observe planned levee breach". Bureau of Reclamation, Report Number TR-2010-03.

Abstract: Devils Lake is the largest freshwater lake in North Dakota and is located in a closed basin with no natural outlet at its present water level. The lake is prone to large water level fluctuations over long time periods and has risen approximately 30 ft since 1993 to historic high levels exceeding previous historic highs in the 1870s. An additional 6 ft of water level rise is needed to reach the natural outlet to the Sheyenne River, tributary to the Red River which flows north into Canada. The lake is believed to have last reached this level about 1000 years ago. As the lake has risen in recent years, dikes and levees have been constructed to protect homes, farmland and infrastructure, and many existing roadway embankments are also now functioning as dams. The Kurtz Dike was constructed in the late 1990s. The history of its construction is poorly documented. The embankment may have initially been constructed to create a stock pond, and was then enlarged as the lake level increased, although no one on site was able to say for certain who performed the majority of the construction work. Also, the dike crest may have been raised again very recently to allow time for construction of highway improvements in areas protected by the dike. Presently the embankment is about 8 ft high and the lake level is about 1 ft below the crest of the embankment. A decision has been made to now breach the dike and allow expansion of Devils Lake and the inundation of about 200 acres of low-lying land beyond the dike. The expected drop in the level of Devils Lake due to the breach is negligible. We learned of the planned breach on August 23 and decided to take the opportunity to make erodibility measurements on the dike prior to the planned breach and to monitor the breaching process for potential analysis as an embankment dam failure case study.

Web Link: http://www.usbr.gov/pmts/hydraulics_lab/pubs/TR/TR-2010-03.pdf

The script that generated this page was last revised on 08/08/12