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Souris River to run fast all winter long

The Associated Press

MINOT — Officials in the U.S. and Canada plan to move more water through the Souris River this winter than last to lower reservoirs in the basin by next spring — the third anniversary of historic flooding in the region.

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The waterway, also known as the Mouse River, enters North Dakota from Canada near Sherwood, makes a loop down through the Minot area and re-enters Canada near Westhope. The Minot area has seen a record amount of precipitation this year, and southern Saskatchewan also has had a wet year.

“Those late-summer rains in Canada really stacked some water up,” said Frank Durbian, project leader for the Souris Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

River flows through the winter will be about 275 cubic feet per second, compared to 75 cfs last winter. The high volume of water should not cause any major ice danger, because it will be at a constant flow and will allow solid ice to form, Durbian said.

Historic flooding along the Souris in June 2011 caused by heavy spring snowmelt and rains damaged or destroyed more than 4,000 homes, businesses and other structures in Minot, causing an estimated $690 million in damage. Rural towns and areas around North Dakota’s fourth-largest city also experienced high waters.

Last spring, officials sent nearly 1,000 cfs out of Lake Darling upstream from Minot — even with ice covering the river — after major snowstorms in the river valley on both sides of the border in February and March.

“It was a good test of what we can do,” Durbian said.

“I think everybody involved from Canada down through the United States was very pleased with the lack of ice jamming and lack of issues with the river,” he said. “Basically it melted just fine, didn’t create any large ice jams, didn’t cause any trouble. It went surprisingly well, which is a good thing to know for future management.”