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Appendix G Public Comments and Responses - US Army Corps of

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					         Appendix G.

Comments and Responses on the
Draft Environmental Assessment
       Comments and Responses on the Draft Environmental Assessment
           Tolna Coulee Advance Measures, Nelson County, ND
       A 30-day public review of the draft environmental assessment ended on August 15, 2011.
Written comments were to be provided to the St. Paul District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
ATTN: Mr. Steven Clark, CEMVP-PD-E, 180 Fifth Street East, Suite 700, St. Paul, Minnesota
55101, or by email to: Steven.J.Clark@usace.army.mil.

        Two public meetings were held to solicit public input on the proposed project. These
meetings were held in the city of Devils Lake on July 27, and Valley City on July 28th. The
meetings in Devils Lake and Valley City were attended by about 400 and 120 members of the
public, respectively.

        About 40 individuals, groups, or agencies provided written comments on the draft EA,
and many more provided verbal comments during the public meetings. All comments received
in writing, and a memo summarizing the comments expressed during two public meetings can be
found below as an attachment to Appendix G.

      Comments were received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the North
Dakota State Water Commission, the Governor of North Dakota, the Department of Natural
Resources and Pollution Control Agency of Minnesota, Manitoba Water Stewardship, the
Government of Canada, and a number of concerned citizens and groups.

     All comments received were reviewed and used to produce a set of general categorized
comments that reflects the issues that were raised. Then a response for each categorized
comment was generated. These categorized comments and responses are found below.

         There were three basic themes present in the comments received on the Draft EA. The
first was that the proposed project would do nothing to prevent the lake from rising further,
which most contended should be addressed by actively lowering the lake now. However, the
project purpose as developed under the cited implementation authority is not to lower the lake or
prevent it from rising. The second theme was that the project as designed would somehow
influence the overflow of the lake, either by causing it to overflow sooner, or preventing it from
overflowing. Neither is the case, as the project is designed to not interfere with natural processes
until after the coulee erodes, if it does. The third major theme was that the project would cause
significant downstream adverse effects by releasing a large quality of water. However, the
project would not cause the release of water; it only limits flows to no more than 3,000 cfs. Each
of these themes is addressed in detail below.

Category A. Project Purpose, Need and Authority

Comment A.1: The project as proposed does not solve the real problem that the lake is rising
and flooding land. The project should include a purpose to lower the coulee to allow the lake to
drain down through the coulee.
Response A.1: The purpose of the project and the authority under which it would be built only
allow for preventing a catastrophic release of flow through the Tolna Coulee in the event of an

Tolna Coulee Advance Measures, Appendix G, August 2011                                  Page 1 of 10
overflow, while allowing Devils Lake water levels to fall to the level they would have without
the project. The Corps does not have the authority or funding to pursue alternatives that would
work to manage lake levels by actively lowering or raising it.

Comment A.2: Why doesn’t the Corps have the authority to lower the lake and how can you get
it?
Response A.2: The Corps is provided the authority and funding for projects through federal
legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President. For most projects, a non-Federal
sponsor such as the State of North Dakota must also request a project and provide part of the
funding for the project’s planning, design, and construction.

Comment A.3: The probability of an overflow and subsequent flooding downstream is low and
does not constitute an “imminent threat” that translates to the “need” to complete the project as
proposed under the cited authority.
Response A.3: While the probability of an overflow is statistically relatively low as discussed in
the EA, it is a real possibility. Given the right conditions during an overflow event, there could
be a catastrophic release of water from Devils Lake. The Corps has determined that the level of
risk (the probability of occurrence and the severity of impact in the event of an occurrence)
merits an immediate, emergency response. Waiting until the lake rises further (resulting in a
higher probability of an overflow) would unacceptably increase the risk that a project could not
be constructed in time to prevent a catastrophic release of water. This is because a project such
as this requires time for planning, design, and construction.

Comment A.4: Allowing Devils Lake to fall by releasing water through the structure below an
elevation of 1458 is not consistent with the project purpose and must not occur.
Response A.4: Part of the project purpose is to allow the lake to fall to the level it would have
naturally with an overflow event. This was included in the project purpose in order to reduce the
potential overall adverse effects of the project. Fixing the outlet elevation at 1458 would have
artificially maintained the lake level at 1458 and would have caused effects around the lake. By
allowing lake levels to fall as they would have naturally, but only at a slower rate, the project
would both limit downstream flows and minimize adverse project effects around the lake.
Minimizing overall project effects would increase the likelihood of project acceptance and
success.

Comment A.5: If the lake overflows, the coulee will not erode as predicted. In fact, there is
evidence to show during the last 4 overflow events, it did not erode but actually filled in to a
higher level. Because of this, there is no need for the project.
Response A.5: As discussed in the EA in [section 3.4], the best available data indicates that
under the right conditions the coulee would likely erode as a result of an overflow. The extent of
the erosion would be dependent on many factors, including the volume of water released during
an overflow. It is possible that the coulee may not have eroded during past overflow events, but
that does not mean that it could not erode during future events. It is possible that overflow
volumes during past events were insufficient to cause erosion. Based on the best available data,
which indicates that erosion would likely occur in the event of a significant overflow, the Corps
determined that the risk of damages associated with a discharge from Devils Lake is sufficiently
great that there is an immediate need for this project.

Tolna Coulee Advance Measures, Appendix G, August 2011                                Page 2 of 10
If the coulee does not erode in the event of an overflow, the proposed project would have no
adverse environmental effects other than those at the immediate project site caused by project
construction. This is because the project would not cause any change in flows that would be
associated with an overflow unless and until erosion occurs that would allow the coulee to pass
more than 3,000 cfs.

Category B. Alternatives and Effects

Comment B.1: A sheetpile sill or riprap liner with no provision for allowing lake levels to
decline below 1458 msl would meet the project purpose and be less damaging than the proposed
project; therefore, these alternatives should have been analyzed in detail in the EA and one of
them should have been selected as the preferred alternative.
Response B.1: Part of the project purpose is to allow the lake to decline to the elevation it
would have without the project. This was included in the purpose to reduce the overall affects of
the project. The “fixed crest” alternatives would restrict flows to no more than 3,000 cfs, but
because they would prevent the lake from declining as it would naturally, those alternatives
would also cause impacts around the lake as a result of prolonging high water levels indefinitely.
The proposed project would have fewer overall adverse effects compared to the natural condition
with an overflow because the only effect of the project on flows is to limit flows downstream to
about 3,000 cfs. Minimizing the overall adverse effects of the project (both upstream and
downstream), while still meeting the purpose of preventing a catastrophic release (flows greater
than 3,000), was determined to be an appropriate means to facilitate overall project acceptance
and success.

Comment B.2: The solution to the problem of rising waters and flooding on Devils Lake is
storing water in restored wetlands in the upper Devils Lake basin. Doing so would prevent the
lake from rising and would have many beneficial effects to natural resources, yet this alternative
was not considered in the EA.
Response B.2: The Corps does not have the authority to implement a program of upper basin
storage to prevent an overflow at this time. Also, this alternative was considered in the 2003
Integrated Planning Report and EIS, and it was determined that the alternative was not cost
effective. Additionally, in light of current lake elevations and the time that would be necessary
to implement an upper basin storage program, such an alternative would not meet the project
purpose in the near-term. Finally, fully implementing such a plan would still not guarantee that
the lake would not overflow.

Comment B.3: The Corps is attempting to separate the proposed project into a “sill” and a
“control structure”; however each of these features together is a single federal project and must
be analyzed in the EA.
Response B.3: The sill and control structure portions of the project are considered a single
federal project and have been analyzed as a single project in the EA. Section 2.3.2 of the EA
states, “The proposed alternative includes a control structure (an embankment with sheetpile core
and stoplog control structure), an access road, temporary coffer dams, and the use of earthen-
material borrow and disposal sites.” and, “An operating plan for the control structure is also
included as part of the proposed alternative, and the operating plan rules are listed below.”

Tolna Coulee Advance Measures, Appendix G, August 2011                                 Page 3 of 10
Comment B.4: The Corps predetermined its selection of the preferred alternative.
Response B.4: As required under applicable regulations (40 C.F.R. 1502.14(e); see also 33
C.F.R. 230.10(a)), the Corps appropriately identified a preferred alternative as it completed its
NEPA analysis. In carrying out its environmental analysis, the Corps made an objective, good
faith assessment of the environmental consequences of that preferred alternative. The Corps has
not and will not commit itself to any plan of action until the environmental analysis is complete.
The Commander will have before him all the information on potential environmental effects and
all the comments from the scoping process and draft EA when he determines whether to make a
finding of no significant impact. Only after the NEPA process is complete will the Corps take
steps that will commit the agency to a particular course of action, such as awarding a
construction contract for the work.

Comment B.5: The Corps used the wrong baseline to evaluate impacts of the proposed project.
Rather than comparing the without-project condition under the Historic Event to the condition
with the project under the Historic Event, some commenters thought that future conditions with
the project under the Historic Event should be compared only to existing conditions. Other
commenters thought that all project impacts should be assessed irrespective of the impacts of any
natural event.
Response B.5: NEPA requires an analysis of the No Action alternative and the effects of the
alternatives considered. Determining the effects of the No Action alternative is necessary in
order to separate the effects of natural circumstances from the proposed action. The federal
agency is only responsible for analyzing the effects of its actions. In accordance with USACE
guidance [ER 1105-2-100], comparing a proposed action against the No Action alternative is the
basis for determining the magnitude and significance of potential effects. In some instances
existing conditions may be the most likely conditions to persist over a period of analysis in the
event of no federal action. However, in other instances such as the Historic Event described in
the EA, the no action alternative may result in substantial changes in resource conditions and
should be considered when evaluating comparative effects and mitigation needs. This approach
is consistent with guidance provided by CEQ in their NEPA's 40 Most Asked Questions
[question/response 3]:

       The second interpretation of "no action" is illustrated in instances involving federal
       decisions on proposals for projects. "No action" in such cases would mean the proposed
       activity would not take place, and the resulting environmental effects from taking no
       action would be compared with the effects of permitting the proposed activity or an
       alternative activity to go forward.

For the proposed project, the consequences of a natural event must be evaluated separately from
conditions that would occur with the project, which shows that the effects of the project are only
those at the project site (construction) and the ones resulting from limiting flow to no more than
3,000 cfs.

Comment B.6: The Corps did not adequately assess upstream or downstream impacts, and the
Corps should have determined that those impacts would be significant and require an EIS. Some



Tolna Coulee Advance Measures, Appendix G, August 2011                                 Page 4 of 10
specific areas that commenters referred to in this context include downstream water quality,
downstream riparian forest, biota transfer, flooding impacts on the lake, and beneficial impacts.
Response B.6: There would be numerous significant consequences of a natural overflow of
Devils Lake such as the Historic Event described in the EA. However, under NEPA the Corps is
required to consider the significance of the effects its actions (see comment B.5). The main
effects of the proposed project fall into two categories: 1) reducing the adverse effects of an
uncontrolled overflow; and, 2) direct effects in the immediate vicinity of the structure from the
construction of the project. The proposed project would not cause or facilitate the flow of water
down the coulee, rather it would serve only to control (reduce) flows in the event of erosion of
the coulee. These incremental effects are minor and are appropriately evaluated in an EA.

Comment B.7: The Corps did not adequately consider cumulative impacts. Commenters noted
the following past or future actions that should have received additional analysis: 1) city of
Devils Lake lowering of the coulee; 2) potential future inlet channel upstream of the structure.
Response B.7: Cumulative impacts are considered in the EA throughout Chapter 4. Potential
actions by others were discussed in section 4.1 and their effects in conjunction with the effects of
the proposed project were discussed in subsequent sections within this chapter.

Comment B.8: The proposed project will change the natural erosion of the coulee by either
causing the coulee to erode sooner/deeper or by preventing or reducing the erosion of the coulee.
Commenters have suggested that the structure could cause erosion by increasing downstream
velocities, or prevent erosion by slowing upstream velocities. They have also commented that
the structure may prevent wave action or water seepage through the soil from eroding the coulee.
Response B.8: The proposed project would neither cause nor prevent erosion of the coulee.
Corps modeling predicts that full erosion of the coulee could occur at flows much lower than
3,000 cfs. The project does not begin to affect flows until the coulee erodes to the point at which
it would pass more than 3,000 cfs. The project is also designed to release the same volume of
water as would be released under natural conditions; only releasing this volume more slowly as a
result of limiting flow to 3,000 cfs. Soil erosion is generally more dependent on the total volume
of water acting on a location than the peak flow. For these reasons, the Corps does not believe
that the structure would reduce the final level of erosion that would occur in the coulee naturally.

The structure is designed with a stilling basin (a concrete box with baffle blocks) to dissipate the
energy of the water flowing through it to prevent erosion on its immediate downstream side.
This is necessary for the integrity of the structure. Furthermore, the stilling basin would not fill
with sediment and be rendered ineffective, because velocities within the stilling basin would be
high enough to keep sediment suspended until it moves downstream.

The proposed project would not affect the ability of wave action or water seepage to erode the
high point, because neither would erode the coulee without the project in place. The high point
of the coulee is about 1,600 feet long, and even at high lake levels the water would be too
shallow too permit waves to erode the coulee in any measurable way. Additionally, groundwater
seepage would not be able to affect the stability of the high point due to its length.

Comment B.9: Would the coulee erode prior to the lake overtopping the high point through
either wave action or water seepage/saturation through the ground?

Tolna Coulee Advance Measures, Appendix G, August 2011                                   Page 5 of 10
Response B.9: The high point of the coulee is about 1,600 feet long and would not be
measurably eroded as a result of wave action or seepage or saturation of the ground. Natural
erosion of the coulee would only occur as a result of surface water flowing through the coulee;
this erosion would most likely occur in the form of a head-cut that would begin at a downstream
location in the coulee and would move upstream through the high point.

Category C. Design and Construction

Comment C.1: Why is the bottom of the structure set at 1446 msl when the EA states that the
coulee would likely erode down to 1450? Conversely, why is the sill not lower than 1446?
Response C.1: Based on previous modeling efforts, it was estimated that the coulee could erode
to an elevation of about 1450 msl in the event of an overflow. The sill elevation was set at 1446
msl to provide a margin for error in the event that the coulee would erode deeper than 1450 msl.
Furthermore, if the coulee would erode deeper than 1446 msl, and the sill of the structure were
set lower, it would only serve to lower Stump Lake, as the Jerusalem Channel connecting Devils
Lake to Stump Lake is 1446 msl at its lowest point.

Comment C.2: Why is part of the control structure higher than 1458 msl and why is the section
at 1458 msl narrower than the coulee? Wouldn’t that restrict flows and cause the lake to go
higher?
Response C.2: Water would flow through the control structure faster than it would flow through
a natural channel because the structure would impart less drag on the water than the rougher
bottom of a natural channel. Because of this, it is necessary for the opening of the structure to be
smaller than the “opening” of the natural channel to ensure that if the coulee erodes and is then
capable of allowing flows greater than 3,000 cfs, the structure will limit flows to no greater than
3,000 cfs. The structure is also designed so that if the coulee downstream of the structure erodes
quickly and results in a significant difference in elevation between the lake and the tailwater,
there would not be excessive flows.

Comment C.3: The project must not allow an overflow of the lake prior to it reaching 1458 msl,
either through excavation of the coulee or through induced erosion of the high point.
Response C.3: The project does not include a plan to excavate the coulee downstream of the
structure and would not result in water flowing over the high point of the coulee prior to Devils
Lake reaching that elevation. Some excavation would be required in the immediate vicinity of
the structure to allow its construction. There may also be a need for some excavation upstream
of the structure after the natural erosion of the coulee occurs. This is because it is possible that
the structure may reduce erosion between the structure and the lake, and a high point there may
prevent flows from the lake that would have occurred without the project. However, any such
dredging would require a separate environmental analysis prior to implementation (See also
Comment E.1).

Comment C.4: Will the vibration of driving sheetpile destabilize the high point of the coulee
and cause the overflow we are trying to prevent?
Response C.4: No, the high point of the coulee is much too long and distant from the proposed
project site to be destabilized as a result of vibrations from driving sheetpile.



Tolna Coulee Advance Measures, Appendix G, August 2011                                  Page 6 of 10
Category D. Operation

Comment D.1: The operating plan must include a provision to allow replacing stoplogs to stop
outflows during periods of downstream flooding. Installing gates in the structure rather than
stoplogs would allow efficient operation of the structure.
Response D.1: Replacing stoplogs in the control structure to reduce downstream flows is not
included in the proposed operating plan because doing so could have the effect of raising water
levels on Devils Lake. Artificially raising water levels on Devils Lake would cause flooding
effects that would be inconsistent with the project purpose. Further, such flooding effects would
need to be considered in full and possibly mitigated. A full evaluation of the effects of such
flooding is not possible under the timeframe or authority under which the proposed project
would be completed. Including gates in the structure to facilitate water level operation is
unwarranted given this constraint.

A provision for replacing stoplogs could be included in an operating plan revision at a later date
should the State decide to develop one; however, modification of the operating plan would
require the State to obtain approval from the Corps. Prior to any such approval, additional
environmental review and analysis and public coordination would be required.

Comment D.2: Who will be in control of the operation of the structure?
Response D.2: Although the State of North Dakota would be responsible for the day-to-day
operation and maintenance of the control structure, it would be legally required to accomplish
that work in compliance with the operating plan developed prior to operation of the project. The
operating plan rules found in Section 2.3.2.2 of the EA would be the basis for this plan. If a need
for modifications to the operating plan arose in the future, the new or revised plan would need to
be reviewed and approved by the Corps. Such a modification would also require an appropriate
environmental review prior to approval and implementation.

Category E. Other

Comment E.1: The Corps has no authority to prevent the State or someone else from
excavating the coulee either upstream or downstream of the structure, so there is no assurance
that this will not occur.
Response E.1: In general, the Corps of Engineers agrees with this comment. However, the
Corps, through the Operating Plan, will determine how the structure will function. Through the
Operating Plan, the Corps will ensure that no changes in flow result from any man-made
alterations to the topography of areas upstream or downstream of the structure until the impact of
the change has been evaluated, any necessary environmental reviews have been completed, and
the Corps determines that allowing the change is appropriate. Should excavation or any other
man-made alteration occur either upstream or downstream of the structure without the prior
evaluation and concurrence of the Corps of Engineers, the Operating Plan will require the
stoplogs to remain in place at the then current elevation until such time as the Corps can evaluate
the impact of the change and determine whether a revision to the Operating Plan is appropriate in
light of the activity. Any adjustment to the Operating Plan would depend on the specific nature

Tolna Coulee Advance Measures, Appendix G, August 2011                                 Page 7 of 10
and extent of the excavation and its effect on flows. As currently outlined, the goal of the
Operating Plan is to allow flows through the structure that mimic flows that would occur with the
natural erosion of the coulee (subject to the 3,000 cfs limitation) in spite of any man-made
attempts to do otherwise. Should future alterations to the topography of areas upstream or
downstream of the structure render this approach impracticable or infeasible, other potential
alternatives for operation of the structure would be evaluated (which could include replacing or
deferring further removal of stoplogs or, conversely, operation of the structure in a manner to
allow controlled releases of water through the excavated coulee). In any case, no final decision to
retain or revise the Operating Plan would be made until a complete evaluation of operational
alternatives is concluded, including an appropriate environmental evaluation under NEPA.

This approach is consistent with section 4.1.4 of the EA which addresses the environmental
review procedures that would be used in the event the State proposes to undertake dredging
upstream of the structure into Stump Lake.

Comment E.2: How has it been determined that the natural high point of the coulee is 1458?
The natural outlet of Devils Lake is lower than 1458 msl as evidenced by the sediment found in
the coulee that is deeper than 1458 msl.
Response E.2: The outlet of the coulee in recent times was 1459 msl. The City of Devils Lake
requested the State of North Dakota to determine the elevation of the coulee that existed at the
time of statehood. An investigation was completed to determine the elevation of the coulee at
that time, and using the best available scientific information, it was determined that the elevation
of the coulee at the time of statehood was 1458 msl. The city of Devils Lake then excavated the
high point of the coulee down to 1458 msl.

Comment E.3: The Corps has claimed that 3,000 cfs will not exceed the channel capacity of the
Sheyenne River.
Response E.3: The Corps of Engineers has made no such claim. In fact, Section 3.4 of the EA
states, “The channel capacity upstream of Lake Ashtabula is about 600 cfs, and flows in the range
of 800-900 cfs are generally thought of as the beginning of significant flooding.” Furthermore, the
EA contains numerous statements acknowledging a flow of 3,000 cfs entering the Sheyenne
River would be damaging.

Comment E.4: Why were comments not recorded at the public meetings?
Response E.4: Notes were taken to record the general meaning of comments and questions and
were summarized in a memo that will be part of Appendix G of the final EA.

Comment E.5: The draft EA states that “about 1 million cubic feet of sediment” would be
eroded and moved downstream if the coulee erodes. It would actually result in 940,000 cubic
yards of sediment.
Response E.5: The correct figure is cubic yards rather than cubic feet. The final EA will be
revised to correct this.




Tolna Coulee Advance Measures, Appendix G, August 2011                                  Page 8 of 10
        Attachment

Public Comments on Draft EA.
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 John Dahlen [dwmaster@gondtc.com]
Sent:                 Tuesday, July 19, 2011 8:15 AM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              Tolna coulee


Mr. Clark 
 
  
 
This project is clearly going to alter Mother Nature’s  natural desire to clean out the Tolna 
Coulee.  This will establish a much lower maximum elevation for the Future.  The Corps has a 
engineer or two that says it is not going two, but rest assured for every engineer on your 
payroll that thinks that , there is many more that will tell the Judge that it WILL.   
 
  
 
$410,000.00 that the number you can put on the check that is addressed to John Dahlen 320 
college Dr. S in Devils Lake ND.   The State will then own my three lots and you can flood 
away.   Add it to you cost benefit study.  If it still pencils out fine just send the check 
and alter Mother Nature. 
 
  
 
Thanks John Dahlen 
 




                                                 1
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Gerard Gaffrey [starchiefsafari@hotmail.com]
Sent:                 Tuesday, July 19, 2011 11:34 AM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              note on tolna coulee plans


Mr. Clark: 
  
After reading the ACE Tolna Coulee plans for a controlled outlet, I can only conclude that 
the plan will give downstream residents what they are hoping for, the natural outlet, with 
erosion, but controlled.   It is no different that a logjam moving in and causing more water 
to be held back, or a rogue wave taking 3" off the top of the overflow.  Man's nature to be 
creative, and control his environment is natural. 
  
gpg 
 




                                                     1
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Csajko, William L MVP
Sent:                 Wednesday, July 20, 2011 8:28 AM
To:                   mzlnd@yahoo.com
Cc:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              RE: EA (UNCLASSIFIED)
Attachments:          Tolna Coulee General Plan.pdf


Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
Madeline ‐ 
 
The flow depends upon the upstream pool level (elevation of Stump Lake) and the downstream 
tailwater (which would be highly dependent upon the amount of erosion).  So there is no table 
of flows for given stop log elevations.  The intent is to mimic "natural" flow up to 3,000 
cfs. 
 
We decided to have the three bays at 1457 mainly so that there is no visual perception that 
the control structure is preventing the lake from overflowing the high point of the coulee.  
The configuration will have no effect on when the lake would overflow the high point.  The 
structure itself was made narrower than if all the stoplogs were at 1458 to account for 
restricting flows to 3,000 cfs for the 1/2 PMF event. 
 
The structure is about 1/4 mile upstream of the first high point. 
 
The east end outlet would discharge into Tolna Coulee immediately downstream of the second 
high point.  I've attached a plan that generally shows each of these features in relation to 
each other. 
 
 
Bill 
 
‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐ 
From: mzlnd@yahoo.com [mailto:mzlnd@yahoo.com]  
Sent: Sunday, July 17, 2011 11:30 PM 
To: Csajko, William L MVP 
Subject: EA 
 
Bill,  
A few questions. 
1. What are the flows for different level of log removal. 
2. Why are 3 log bays at 1457 when water is at 1458. 
3. How far upstream from the high point is the control structure? 
4. Where does the east End outlet insert into coulee. 
Sheyenne is still very high, up with each rain. They look awful, but I wish the dikes could 
be left up. 
Madeline 
 
 
Sent from my iPad 
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
                                                  1
Bill Csajko & Steven Clark
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
180 E. 5th St. Ste. 700
St. Paul, MN 55101-1678

Dear Bill and Steve,

I want to thank you for taking the time to come out and hold the public forum at Valley City, ND
on Thursday, June 28, 2011.

I also want the Corps to know I am very appreciative of the efforts your Resource Manager at
Baldhill Dam during the 2009 and 2011 flood events. Rich did one whale of a job in preventing a
major disaster on the lower Sheyenne River. All levels of the Corps could benefit that man’s
wisdom and courage.

As I stated at the meeting I do not lay the cause of the present day situation on the “evil drainage”
as some of my fellow citizens would like to. I understand the wet cycle we are in all too well. The
anti drainage folks will not acknowledge that the Devils Lake has spilled into the Tolna Coulee in
the past, or that the Lake was close to present day levels back in 1883 when the ferry boat the
Minnie H began operating as a freighter, delivering freight to towns adjacent to the Lake. The ferry
boat was over 120 feet long, was over 20 feet wide and drew 28-32 inches of water. It was not a
small vessel. The railroad built a wharf out into the Lake. The railroad freight cars were backed out
on the wharf, the freight was then transferred to the Minnie H. If one was to use honest reasoning,
one would then have to conclude the Lake had to be close to present day levels. Who was draining
wetlands then? They were full and running into the Lake.

In 1826 there was a 67 foot flood in Grand Forks, who was draining?

How much drainage was occurring in 1897 when Fargo, ND experienced a catastrophic flood. I
believe the answer to the 1826 flood is none. The 1897 flood, none or very darn little.

Appeasement according to Winston Churchill, “An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile in
hopes it will eat him last.” We have fed the “crocodile” ever since 1993 listening to the tree
huggers, duck lover, snail hugger types whining about drainage and water quality when we should
have been removing some water from the Lake every winter. Now the “crocodile” has it nose on
the bank and wants more. The only study that is left, “Is there enough room in Winnepeg for all of
us when we was ashore if we do nothing? That wet cycle ended before there was an outflow.

I will list my concerns.
  ♦         I believe we need a control structure on the Tolna Coulee to avoid a natural catastrophic
            disaster.
  ♦         I was disappointed in the size and type of structure put forth. I was hoping for a gate(s)
            type opening that could be controlled very precisely, much like a valve. I was hoping for
            more headroom, not enough to flood Devils Lake, but enough to give us some wiggle
            room.
 ♦       I was greatly disappointed by the so-called operating plan. We need to have full control,
         at all times so we can release the flows when they will have the least effect on down
         stream residents.
 ♦       Erosion is a bad word, “natural” or otherwise. I was highly offended at the Water
         Commission’s attitude toward “natural” erosion. Ladies and Gentlemen, we are talking
         about taxpayers’ homes and lively hoods here. Erosion control is why God created rocks
         of all sizes, to be used as rip rap to protect us. Since when has a fish, a snail, a clam,
         turtle, or duck become more important than our fellowman? In case if the tree
         hugger/duck lover types haven’t figured it out fish love rock structures. Case in point, the
         rip rap on the south in slope of I-94 on Eckelson Lake, excellent fishing, judging from the
         activity I have seen. When we build a road we have to worry about “turbidity” and spend
         tens if not hundreds of thousands of the taxpayers dollars so it doesn’t affect all the little
         creatures residing along the proposed road, yet you are in favor of turbidity caused by
         natural erosion, something does not add up here.
 ♦       Is the location of the proposed structure stable enough to hold the structure?
 ♦       Will driving the sheet piling cause enough vibration to destabilize the surrounding soils,
         to result in the catastrophe we are trying to avoid?
 ♦       Can the sheet piling be driven deep enough to prevent a blow out from beneath the sheet
         pile?
 ♦       The Sheyenne is presently taking out flows from Eckelson Lake and Sanborn Lake and
         probably, soon to be Hobart Lake.
 ♦       The eastern Foster County watershed ends up in Baldhill Creek which a major
         contributor of runoff to the Sheyenne system
 ♦       The Sheyenne system presently can not handle an extra uncontrolled 3,000 CFS.

What I can support.
♦        An operating plan that does not require us to come before the Army Corps of Engineers
         everytime it needs to be adjusted. The plan needs to be controlled by the Resource
         Manager at Bald Hill Dam.
 ♦       Another outlet to remove more water “yesterday”.
 ♦       Utilizing every available watershed in a reasonable manner to remove water from the
          Lake in a controlled environment, now!!
 ♦       Removal of at least one (1) foot of water from the Lake every winter, conditions
         permitting, until the Lake is at an elevation suitable to the parties most likely affected.

The residents of the Upper Devils Lake Basin have suffered enough loss. The residents along the
lower Sheyenne need no further losses whether it is due to flooding or erosion, Especially when we
as humans can remedy that situation with rip rap. To hell with the natural erosion agenda, “Rip rap
Baby, rip rap.”

I am willing to sit on any committee or commission that is willing to use common sense, not
useless rhetoric to find a solution that is beneficial, not harmful to any and all parties.

If I ruffled some feathers at the meeting so be it. From a Country Western song, “ Grandma always
said, ‘It is better to be hated for who are, than to be loved for who are not’.”
In closing, thank you for your time in this effort.

Sincerely,
Gary D. Schlagel
474 5th Ave SW
Valley City, ND 58072

Cell: 701-490-5044
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Richard Betting [rebetting@gmail.com]
Sent:                 Monday, August 01, 2011 9:40 PM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              Comment on the Corps Draft EA


            PEOPLE TO SAVE THE SHEYENNE 
 
                                      Valley City, North Dakota 
 
                                                August 1, 2011 
 
  
 
Response to the "Draft Environmental Assessment: Tolna Coulee Advance Measures:  July 14, 
2011" prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, St. Paul, Minnesota    
 
             
 
            August 1, 2011, and Devils Lake is at an elevation of about 1454.27 feet above 
mean sea level, and people in the Devils Lake area are getting antsy about the possibility of 
an overflow from Stump Lake into the Sheyenne River, uncontrolled. In order to protect folks 
downstream along the Sheyenne River from this potential wall of water, so they said, the city 
of Devils Lake and others asked North Dakota Governor Dalrymple to request  the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers to build a project on the Tolna Coulee so that the water from the lake 
would be prevented from eroding the coulee and causing a catastrophic flood.  
 
             
 
 
            The probability that an overflow could begin in the spring of 2012 produces an 
emergency situation, the "Draft" states. (pages 3 and 7, for example) The urgency of the 
situation creates the need for immediate action, the "Draft EA" concludes.  The Draft EA 
fails to note that the Devils Lake situation was declared an emergency in 1997. And the lake 
has been higher than 1447 feet above msl for the past eleven years. To claim that this time 
the situation is more of an emergency and there is no time to study ways to deal with 
bringing some control to Devils Lake inflows is deliberate procrastination.  
 
            The Summary of the "Draft" claims that there is a 9% chance that Devils Lake will 
overflow in 2012, which could cause an overflow into the Tolna Coulee that, in turn, could 
cause erosion of the coulee leading to massive flows on the Sheyenne River, "causing 
significant harm downstream."    
 
            A 9% chance of an overflow also means that there is a 91% chance that such an 
occurrence will not happen. 
 
             
 
 
            While the Corps part of  the project would prevent the coulee from eroding, the 
State Water Commission component would increase the effects of erosion in the coulee with the 
goal of dropping the coulee elevation from 1458 feet above mean sea level to about 1446 feet 
msl.   
 
              
                                                    1
 
 
            While the "Draft" claims to have considered a number of alternatives to limit 
downstream flows" it did not consider reducing the amount of water entering Devils Lake in 
the first place. As Colonel Price stated at the Corps meeting in Cooperstown, ND, May 18, 
there are only two ways to deal with too much water on Devils Lake, prevent it from getting 
there or draining it after it gets there. Upper basin water retention would prevent water 
from reaching the lake, but water retention was not part of the study.  Projects such as 
increasing "upper basin storage were not considered." (p. 9) The Draft EA continues:  "If the 
Corps were to pursue such a project, the required planning and review process would likely 
take at least 2 years, and therefore would not meet the project's purpose and need given the 
emergency nature of the required response. Similarly, while upstream storage is an important 
component of the problem of rising water levels in Devils Lake [emphasis added], creating 
upstream storage is a difficult and time‐consuming task that could not be completed within 
the needed time frame. More importantly, implementing an upper basin storage plan would not 
guarantee the prevention of an overflow."  (p. 9)    
 
            These statements make several points, the first being that the plan the Corps EA 
selects fails to guarantee anything either. Well, no, if the stated erosion occurs, this plan 
does guarantee downstream destruction along the Sheyenne River by adding runoff from Devils 
Lake to what is already in the river, a horrendous result that the EA fails to adequately 
assess. It's August 1, 2011, for example, and Lake Ashtabula is filling up because of 
unprecedented inflows, expected to be 8700 cfs by this weekend. Lake levels are expected to 
reach 1270 feet msl, a foot from overflow. All of the water coming in to the lake will have 
to be allowed out of the lake through Baldhill Dam. If Devils Lake water were being added at 
3,000 cfs now, for example, through a control structure that failed to regulate flows through 
the Tolna Coulee, Valley City, Lisbon and many individuals downstream would soon be flooded.  
 
  
 
            Another point is that storage should have been considered and it was not. Storage 
was not one of the mandates for this plan, which were to select the lowest cost plan, to be 
built during the winter by spring 2012, and prevent a downstream catastrophic overflow with a 
maximum flow rate of 3,000 cfs. That would be to simply build the Corps sheet pile sill and 
nothing else.  
 
  
 
            But storage has never really had a hearing and it must, sooner or later. The 
argument for upper basin storage is really quite sound. In the beginning the upper basin of 
Devils Lake contained about 569,000 acres of wetlands, a 1976 ND legislative study shows. In 
1997 the ND state engineer and the US Fish and Wildlife estimated that about 211,000 of those 
wetland acres remained. The conclusion: about 358,000 acres were drained and now contribute 
to Devils Lake the water that they once held. First, runoff that would have been held in 
sloughs now reaches the lake, and second, remaining in sloughs above the lake the water that 
they held would evaporate each year. That's why, when precipitation has increased by only 
about four inches per year over the past 25 years or so, runoff has increased to the point 
where the average runoff into the lake over the past 17 years has been about 250,000 acre‐
feet per year. That runoff adds a foot or more to the lake each year. Keep water from 
entering the lake in the first place. Turn off the taps.  
 
            A complete EIS could take into consideration recent hydrological studies and 
methods, including the use of LIDAR to determine acreage drained and the amount of water 
entering the lake as a result.  
 
  
 
                                              2
            Why is this such an important point? Unless upper basin water retention is 
understood as part of a long‐term solution to the water issue on the lake, it means that only 
continued drainage on those downstream will be used.  That is also why claiming that the EA 
is limited only to the initial set of criteria is flawed. That is not an acceptable option, 
especially with this proposed Tolna Coulee drainage ditch project. 
 
  
 
  
 
The Corps EA was made public on July 15, 2011, and comments on the Draft EA are due August 
15, 2011. The Corps will evaluate the comments and make its decision in September, 2011, 
according to news stories. Let's assume that the Corps has  not already made up its mind that 
the Draft EA will suffice and instead find that a complete Environmental Impact Statement is 
necessary. Considering the many unanswered questions this project raises, an EIS should be 
done.  
 
            A prediction: My guess is that the Corps will claim that the Draft EA is an 
adequate response to its charge because it meets those limited requirements. They will 
continue to declare a finding of no significant downstream impact. FONSI.  Thus, whatever we 
say here will have no bearing on the Corps' predetermined conclusion. Even though the Draft 
EA fails to adequately address the causes of rising water issue on the lake.  
 
  
 
            Why won't the Corps conclude that this present Draft EA is inadequate and do a 
complete EIS?  Four reasons: 1. the Corps will not challenge the politicians who insist on 
this type of plan, rather than one that introduces the problem of upper basin water 
retention; 2. the limits of the study are built in and offer a reason, though not plausible, 
for not changing the scope of the study; 3. since time is one of the limitations the Corps 
will claim, again not plausibly, such a limitation prevents change. A logical contradiction.  
4. Fear. 
 
              
 
 
            Thus the Corps was given such a restrictive set of limitations for it Tolna 
Coulee project that it could not expand its Environmental Assessment. The Corps could not 
study more than the limited set of options for a Tolna Coulee project (four of them) within 
the criteria it had to meet: prevent a downstream catastrophe on the Sheyenne River, build a 
project by spring 2012, build during winter months, and limit the outflows through the coulee 
to 3,000 cubic feet per second.  [An important question that the "Draft" fails to explain is 
the origin and evidence for  the claim that 3,000 cfs will not exceed the capacity of the 
Sheyenne River. Usual number for the river's capacity above Baldhill Dam are 600 cfs, which 
the Corps itself used in the 2003 Final EIS on the Pelican Lake Outlet plan.] Obviously, any 
project produced under these restrictions would fail to meet other considerations. Thus, the 
Corps sheet steel piling project could prevent erosion in the coulee, while the State Water 
Commission control structure would seek to ensure erosion of the Tolna Coulee down to an 
elevation of 1446 feet above msl, twelve feet lower than its present elevation of 1458 feet 
above msl.  The Corps sheet pile alone would guarantee that the coulee would not erode. That 
would be the best option for downstream Sheyenne River users. But Devils Lake area people do 
not want the lake to rise further and a so‐called 'control structure" will remove water from 
the lake. That's actually the reason for this project in the first place: get water off 
Devils Lake, as much as possible. so the lake won't rise further and, a bonus, so that some 
of the lake bed already flooded will be dry once again. 
 
  
                                              3
 
            The significant problem with the so‐called solution provided in the "Draft"  is 
that the Tolna Coulee after erosion could then have an elevation of 1446 feet, and all of  
the water that enters Devils Lake from the upper basin or through precipitation will flow 
into Stump Lake and immediately into the coulee and on into the Sheyenne River.  
Uncontrolled. In 2009 this would have meant that the 580,000 acre‐feet of water that flowed 
into the lake would have flowed on into the river. It would have meant that on April 18, 
2011, when the Sheyenne River flowed at over 7,000 cfs, the flows would have been doubled by 
the over 7,000 cfs flowing into Devils Lake from the upper basin. That would have been 
catastrophic for Valley City, Lisbon and other communities and people downstream of Tolna. 
 
            Lowering the elevation of the overflow from Devils Lake means that all water 
entering the lake above that elevation will be added to the Sheyenne River flows, 
exacerbating flooding, increasing erosion and degrading water quality.  This result 
contradicts the Corps "Draft" statement claim of benefits: "The primary effects of the 
proposed project are in reducing the amount of downstream damages during a major outflow 
event. " (p. 4)   
 
            Later, this same argument is made again: "With the control structure there would 
still be high flows downstream that would result in major adverse consequences, but the 
effect of the project would be to substantially reduce those flows; therefore, the net effect 
of the project would be largely beneficial."  (p. 33)  
 
These comments indicate an admission of significant downstream damages while failing to 
enumerate and consider them. There is no benefit/cost analysis to substantiate this 
assertion. 
 
            An example of this occurs on the next page on the "Draft." After the coulee has 
eroded during the initial event, spring inflow events would flow from Devils Lake, typically 
starting in March and reaching peak in early to mid‐summer . . ." (34)  The low‐key wording 
fails to emphasize the increase in downstream flooding that would occur as a result of these 
added flows. It also carries with it the assumption that nothing could or would be done to 
create a real control structure where an open ditch would result from this  project.   
 
            In fact, major outflow events would occur with regularity, especially if the 
projections of a long‐term wet cycle are accurate. (p. 6) Rather, one of the primary effects 
of the Tolna Coulee project will be to add the Devils Lake Basin (about 3810 square miles) to 
the Sheyenne River watershed (about 7,000 square miles, with about 4,000 square miles 
contributing) and ensure more damage on the river over a long period of time‐‐forever. 
 
  
 
            Downstream damages both during and after construction of the Tolna Coulee project 
also give the lie to the statement that the EA concludes with: A finding of no significant 
impact on the environment or on people living downstream along the Sheyenne River.  
 
  
 
            Several questionable statements in the "Draft": 
 
  
 
Many initiatives have been tried, among them "watershed management in the upper basin, 
wetland restoration through a variety of agency programs, an experimental irrigation program, 
the construction of an outlet from the West Bay of Devils Lake . . ."  None of these 
restoration or storage plans were seriously promoted or considered or funded. The only really 
consistent plan of action for those in the Devils Lake area has been one of moving water off 
                                              4
the lake. Preventing water from reaching Devils Lake has never been tried.  The ND State 
Water Commission long‐term plan for Devils Lake water management, in fact, was illustrated by 
the three‐legged stool metaphor: one leg was for maintaining infrastructure, another leg for 
an outlet, and the third for upper basin water management, or retention. 
 
  
 
The use of the word "natural" no longer applies in the Devils Lake situation.  Since over 
350,000 acres of upper basin wetlands have been drained over the past fifty or sixty years, 
causing most of the water that they used to retain to flow into the lake, very little about 
the lake is natural.  Lowering the Tolna Coulee to imitate a natural action cannot be done 
because that erosion did not occur historically. The Corps "Draft" also fails to mention that 
one of the main causes for the rise of Devils Lake in the past has been that thousands of 
acre‐feet of water have been added to the lake because of drainage. And no definitive studies 
have been done to determine how many acres of wetlands have been drained, how much water that 
adds to the lake and how many acre‐feet of water could be retained in the upper basin if 
wetlands were restored.  
 
  
 
The Draft EA fails to consider downstream effects on the ecosystem of the river: the loss of  
fish species and mussels, for  example, and the loss of recreational and agricultural uses.  
How will Devils Lake/Stump Lake water affect the Sheyenne River, which "contains more species 
of fish than any other North Dakota tributary"? 
 
(p. 21) Studies show that fish and mussels cannot reproduce in Stump Lake water.  
 
  
 
The Draft EA fails to explain how the limitation of the state standard of 450 mg/l sulfate 
below Baldhill Dam can be deliberately altered by the influx of Stump Lake water. With over 
2500 mg/l if sulfate in Stump Lake water and outflows of 3,000 cfs into the Sheyenne, state 
standards will quickly be broken. As will Minnesota and Manitoba standards.   
 
  
 
The size of the Devils Lake watershed‐‐3810 square miles‐‐is about 5.5 % of the land area of 
the state and the population is also similar.  Money spent on the water situation there far 
exceeds their proportionate value. And the 40% of North Dakotans who live downstream of 
Devils Lake will be shouldering the costs of the Tolna Coulee outlet plan without 
compensation or mitigation.  
 
  
 
The Draft EA claim that no scientific evidence exists to show that the Tolna Coulee did not 
erode in the past nine to ten thousand years  seems to deny the validity of the North Dakota 
Geological Survey Report of Investigation No. 100 (1997): The Jerusalem and Tolna Outlets in 
the Devils Lake Basin, North Dakota." 
 
Stratified soils samples from the "Investigation" indicate that no erosion occurred during 
overflows in the Coulee over the past 9‐10 thousand years. The Draft EA relies on the Barr 
2001 report on possible erosion, and then states, "No  scientific reports are known to exist 
that would contradict the assertion that the coulee soils would erode in the event of a 
substantial overflow."  (p. 24)  But the Barr assertion doesn't make it so either.  
 
  
 
                                              5
The Draft EA claims that "The control structure would allow the lake to be lowered to the  
elevation that it would decline to under natural conditions if the coulee erodes." ( p. 11) 
the EA claims that such erosion would "mimic" natural erosion. Yet if there was no natural 
erosion such as the Draft EA supposes, it cannot be mimicked. Also,  since there probably 
never was such a "natural" erosion, the plan to encourage erosion now cannot be said to be 
natural. 
 
  
 
In the mention of economic gains and losses in the Devils Lake basin, losses are emphasized, 
gains are minimized. The fact losses are the result of the situation‐‐that humans have built 
in the bottom of a lake bed‐‐was not made. And to state that the "tourist industry has likely 
improved"  is to ignore the benefits of recreation to the area. In fact, the people in the 
area want the lake to remain stable, in their estimation no higher than about 1450 feet above 
mean sea level and no lower than 1446 feet msl, a height that fails to allow for long‐term 
flood control in the basin. 
 
  
 
The Draft EA concludes that "rainfall is projected to increase by about 10%‐30% by 2090 . . 
." (p. 24) Considering this probability, it would make  water retention in the upper basin 
(and other places) more scientifically practical and expedient than trying to keep up with 
higher and higher outflows in the future. 
 
  
 
The Draft EA uses the word "natural" frequently in describing the possible overflow and 
erosion of the Tolna Coulee. While studies show that Devils Lake overflowed half a dozen 
times in the past ten thousand years, no studies ever showed how much precipitation it took 
to produce an overflow. Therefore, to say that today's rise on Devils Lake is completely 
natural is incorrect. Much of the water results from runoff produced by upper basin wetlands 
no longer holding water.  
 
            So it is extremely pertinent to read this about the control structure: "Although 
the control structure is designed to allow downstream erosion of the coulee, the structure 
may alter or impede erosion upstream of the structure, inhibiting the flow of water from 
Stump Lake over the control structure to the eroded elevation on the downstream side. 
Therefore, an inlet channel may need to be dredged upstream from the structure into Stump 
Lake." (p. 27)  
 
            In other words, if the Tolna Coulee won't erode by itself, the construction team 
will make sure it does. By this time the sheet pile will have been implanted, the control 
structure built so the word "natural" will have been degraded to the point where it means 
whatever people claim.  
 
  
 
            Another incorrect assumption of the Draft EA is this: "The coulee would erode to 
the same elevation with or without the control structure, though the structure would likely 
have the effect of reducing  the rate of erosion as a result of limiting flows to  3,000 cfs. 
The ultimate quantity of erosion would be the same, however, because the project would allow 
the same volume of water to flow down the coulee." (p. 31)   
 
            The design of the control structure concentrates flows into a narrow path down 
the coulee, encouraging erosion. There is a base on the control structure that will prevent 
erosion lower than 1446 feet msl. Otherwise, the coulee could possible erode lower still‐‐
though those around Devils Lake do not want that to happen. And since there could be dredging 
                                              6
above the coulee, this act will increase the likelihood of erosion.  Corps projections about 
how much flow would occur if overflows occurred naturally indicated that the amount of water 
would be in the 200 cfs to 1800 cfs range, not much higher. (see FEIS 2003) 
 
              
 
 
            Some of the downstream damage that the Draft EA lists but does not address 
includes the following:  The large amounts of Stump Lake water might not allow the 
reproduction of mussels in the river. Since this appears to be an unwarranted taking of a 
natural resource from the river‐‐as the North Dakota legislature recognized when it made such 
taking illegal‐‐this plan seems to violate that prohibition.  
 
            A railroad embankment and the Tolna Dam, just below the coulee would be 
endangered. "It is unlikely that this dam would withstand flows under any substantial outflow 
event, with or without a control structure. Failure of this dam would result in a release of 
water and sediment that would have adverse consequences. The hydrologic analysis here does 
not include a scenario of the failure of this dam because similar to the railroad embankment, 
doing so would be difficult and beyond the scope of this project, nor would it affect the 
decision to proceed. Just as with the railroad embankment, the control structure would have 
no adverse effect on the stability of this dam." (p. 36) The assumptions made are that the 
consequences of this control structure project would be the same as what would happen with or 
without the project. But it fails to consider the fact that this project will encourage 
erosion. The Draft EA also fails to explain the results of armoring the coulee to ensure that 
the coulee could not erode. And the Draft EA fails to consider other action that could reduce 
water flows into the lake in the first place.  
 
            In fact, just armoring the coulee against the possibility of erosion will do more 
to guarantee a reduction in downstream damages than any other project except water retention 
in the upper basin. Yet the Corps Draft EA fails to select that option even though it meets 
their starting criteria better than the selected alternative.  
 
  
 
  
 
The Corps EA was made public on July 15, 2011, and comments on the Draft EA are due August 
15, 2011. The Corps will evaluate the comments and make its decision in September, 2011, 
according to news stories. Chances are good that the Corps has already made up its mind that 
the Draft EA will suffice and a complete Environmental Impact Statement is not necessary. 
Considering the many unanswered questions this project raises, an EIS should be done.  
 
  
 
While the Corps EA was produced at the request of the Governor of North Dakota, the request 
to do a complete, scientific Environmental Impact Statement is hereby made by the people of 
North Dakota, not only those who live downstream along the Sheyenne River, but all those who 
insist that common sense should prevail as the problems of Devils Lake are addressed.  
 
  
 
Richard Betting,  Secretary 
 
People to Save the Sheyenne 
 
Box 252 
 
                                              7
Valley City, ND   58072 
 




                           8
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 plemelfarm@gondtc.com
Sent:                 Wednesday, August 03, 2011 1:58 PM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              Tolna Coulee


 
   Dear Sir 
  Iam opposed to the Tolna Coulee project. 
 First‐Why not do a environmental study, every project on Devils Lake has had one why not 
now. 
 Second‐ If you put rip rap downstream from the structure you are changing the natural 
erosion process(hence the environmental study). 
  Third‐If no stop logs are to ever put back in why build the sides to 1465, if the water is 
going to run at 1458. 
  Fourth‐Why have downstream midagation but not upstream. 
  Fifth‐How do we trust you not to change the operating plan and raise the lake!! 
 
                  Dan Plemel 




                                                  1
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Csajko, William L MVP
Sent:                 Monday, August 08, 2011 2:34 PM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              FW: Comments Re: Tolna Outlet Control Structure (UNCLASSIFIED)
Attachments:          Economic Impact of Devils Lake Flooding_2011.doc


Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: FOUO 
 
 
 
‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐ 
From: Ginny Taylor [mailto:dvtaylor@cox.net]  
Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2011 6:41 PM 
To: Csajko, William L MVP 
Subject: Comments Re: Tolna Outlet Control Structure 
 
Mr. Csajko, 
 
  
 
Please accept this email for public comment. 
 
  
 
Re: Comments for Tolna Outlet Control Structure 
 
  
 
Our third generation farm, which was homesteaded by our grandparents in the late 1800s,  is 
in danger of being flooded; along with our dreams of passing this beautiful legacy onto our 
children and grandchildren. While I understand the need to protect downstream interests, 
there needs to be some mechanism to stop the catastrophic back‐up of flooding to the northern 
counties. Taking the easy way out and turning the northern basin into wetlands is not the 
solution. http://www.wdaz.com/event/article/id/8146/ 
<http://www.wdaz.com/event/article/id/8146/>   
 
  
 
See attached Economic Impact of Devils Lake Area Flooding in 2011. Note that this analysis 
only considers Ramsey and Benson Counties. Also, the loss does not reflect the heartbreak of 
3rd and 4th generation farmers losing their livelihoods, their farms, their homes to 
senseless flooding. North Dakota ranks first in the nation in the production of many 
crops…much of it produced in the northern states.  
 
  
 
Total impact on business activity in the region from both direct and indirect losses is 
estimated at $194,419,000. The major losses are $57.6 million to the crop sector, $50.9 
million to the households sector (personal income), and $42.9 million to the retail trade 
sector. The remainder of the $194.4 million loss is distributed among several other sectors 
of the economy. 
 
  
                                                  1
 
The Army Corp of Engineers surveyed Devils Lake before statehood and the federal government 
set a meander line at 1444. In 1997, the Summary Report on Route and Plan Selection for an 
Emergency Outlet from Devils Lake to the Sheyenne was set at 1444. 
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/23440732/3‐PRIOR‐STUDIES‐REPORTS‐AND‐EXISTING‐WATER‐PROJECTS‐
PRIOR <http://www.docstoc.com/docs/23440732/3‐PRIOR‐STUDIES‐REPORTS‐AND‐EXISTING‐WATER‐
PROJECTS‐PRIOR>    
 
  
 
Armoring the control structure at Tolna Outlet at 1458 is now a necessary solution since the 
lake is now approaching that elevation and still rising; the property owners in the upper 
basin need some consideration and relief! Although the control structure that must be ready 
by March 2012 needs to control to the current elevation, the target elevation needs to be set 
to where Devils Lake flows into Stump Lake (1446.5 ft). A controlled reduction of the 
elevation of Devils Lake to the level of Stump Lake would solve most problems throughout the 
region – the town of Devils Lake would no longer be threatened, roads and railroads would be 
stabilized, farmers would get (some) of their land back, the folks downstream would be 
protected with a greater safety factor, counties and towns would regain their tax base, and 
everyone would finally know what the future holds.   
 
  
 
Respectfully, 
 
Dave & Ginny Botz‐Taylor 
 
Towner County  
 
  
 
Sometimes miracles fall from heaven…but most of the time, they’re right at our feet. 
 
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: FOUO 
 
 




                                              2
CEMVP-PD-C                                                    4 August 2011

MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD

SUBJECT: Public meetings for the Tolna Coulee Advance Measures project,
held during the public review period of the draft environmental assessment.

1. The purpose of these meetings was to solicit public input on a project to
   control flows through the Tolna Coulee in the event of erosion of the existing
   divide resulting from an overflow of Devils Lake, N.D.

2. The subject meetings were held in two locations and times:

   Devils Lake, N.D., July 27, 7 p.m., Devils Lake High School gymnasium,
   1601 College Dr. N., Devils Lake, N.D.

   Valley City, N.D., July 28, 7 p.m., Hi-Liner Activities Center, 180 4th St. NW,
   Valley City, N.D.

3. Corps personnel attending the meetings included Bill Csajko, Steve Clark,
   Kevin Bluhm, Judy DesHarnais, and Chris Erickson. Shahin Khazrajafari and
   CDT Frykman from the Corps attended the meeting in Devils Lake. Bruce
   Engelhardt of the North Dakota State Water Commission attended both
   meetings.

4. The meetings in Devils Lake and Valley City were attended by about 400 and
   120 members of the public, respectively.

5. The meetings began with a presentation of the proposed project by Bill
   Csajko and the operating plan by Bruce Engelhardt, the presentation lasted
   about 30 minutes. Following the presentation, members of the public were
   invited to comment and ask questions. To do so, people were asked to come
   to a central microphone and were given 3 minutes to speak. More time was
   allowed if needed. Each person was allowed one turn at the microphone until
   all parties wishing to do so had a chance to speak. After the first round, the
   opportunity was given for all to speak again. Some people did speak twice or
   more. There were about 40 turns at the microphone at each meeting.

6. Questions were answered by appropriate Corps or State personnel.
   Comments and questions were not recorded verbatim, but were noted in
   general to record the meaning of the comment. No substantive comments
   were raised that were not addressed in the draft environmental assessment
   (EA).

7. Comments provided during the meetings in written form will be included in the
   correspondence section of the EA, along with other comments received

Tolna Coulee Advance Measures                                           Page 1 of 3
   during the public review period. It was announced during the public meetings
   that verbal comments and questions would be noted in general, and that if
   someone would like their comments included as part of the formal record,
   they would be required to provide them in writing either during the meetings
   or prior to the close of the public comment period.

8. The mayor of the city of Devils Lake commented that the City has not
   changed their position since the meetings held in May. To summarize this
   position, the City does not support the project in its current form, and will not
   grant access to the land on the project site for construction (the project site is
   owned by the city of Devils Lake).

9. Comments and questions received were very similar to those received during
   project scoping. Those comments and questions, and response are
   summarized in the scoping document (Appendix E of the EA).

10. The most common comments and questions expressed during the public
    meetings are summarized below:

       a. This is the wrong project. Any project must include a plan to actively
          lower the lake. It is not acceptable to allow the lake to continue to rise.
       b. It does not appear that there are any changes to what was proposed in
          May during the scoping meetings. We told you that the lake should be
          lowered now, but you did not listen.
       c. The structure as proposed will prevent erosion of the coulee either
          through preventing waves from hitting the high point, by preventing
          groundwater flow from weakening the high point, or by reducing flows
          through the structure.
       d. The structure as proposed will cause the high point of the coulee to
          erode by necking down flows and increasing the speed of the water
          hitting the high point of the coulee.
       e. The structure will cause the lake to remain high for a longer period of
          time; you are causing permanent flooding in the basin.
       f. The structure as proposed is acceptable, but the operating plan is not.
          The operating plan must include a provision to allow the replacement
          of stoplogs to reduce flood flows downstream.
       g. This structure and operating plan will result in an additional 3,000 cfs of
          flow during flooding downstream and this is unacceptable.
       h. The structure should not be built; let nature take its course.
       i. The coulee has not eroded during past overflows, but this project is
          serving to ensure the erosion of the coulee and the drainage of the
          lake.
       j. The project requires an EIS, with a full environmental study, so that a
          better solution to the problem can be implemented.
       k. The cause of the problem is upper basin drainage, and can only be
          solved by upper basin storage.

Tolna Coulee Advance Measures                                             Page 2 of 3
11. Individual responses to public meeting comments are not provided in this
    memo, as substantive comments have been addressed in the comments and
    responses found in the scoping document (Appendix E of the EA), and are
    addressed in various locations throughout the text of the EA.

12. No one attending the meetings indicated that they were in favor of the project
    as-is. In Devils Lake, one member of the public requested a show of hands
    for anyone in favor of the project; no hands were raised. In Valley City, some
    attendees stated that they were in favor of the structure, but that the operating
    plan must include provisions to replace stoplogs to reduce downstream flows
    during flooding.



                                                 Steven Clark
                                                 Project Biologist
                                                 Environmental Compliance
                                                 Section




Tolna Coulee Advance Measures                                            Page 3 of 3
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Gary & Connie [garville@gondtc.com]
Sent:                 Saturday, August 06, 2011 6:01 AM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              Tolna Coulee Advance Measures Project near Devils Lake, N.D.,


How many years does it take to get water off of Devils Lake?   
  
I am part owner of Bayview Resort LLC at 7414 46th ST NE  Devils Lake ND 58301. 
  
We purchased and expanded the resort for our retirement.  With several hundred thousand 
dollars in loans still left to pay on the resort, it is now being flooded with water from the 
lake.  We have had to build up roads, keep raising our launch area, lost many sites to the 
lake along with hundreds of large old trees. 
We have spent so much time and money just trying to stay in business.   
  
As we look out over the lake we see water where our beautiful playground area used to be.  
Water is over the electrical boxes and water and sewer lines.  Some of the first rows of 
electrical and water sites no longer even show as the water is too deep and covers it all.   
  
For 17 years the corps or government agencies have been doing studies on the lake while we 
the citizens have suffered the consequences.  If water is not taken off the lake by this 
fall, we as a resort will more than likely have to join the many resorts and campgrounds in 
the area that have gone out of business.  We the citizens do not have the money to raise 
roads and launch areas and docks that the state can do for the state campgrounds.  I watch 
from my shoreline as truck load after truck load of fill and rocks build up dikes and roads 
in the area.   
  
All this construction and demand for fill and rocks have raised my price to purchase fill, 
gravel, hire contractors etc. Once this lake breaks through Tolna Coulee and we in the Devils 
Lake area get some relief, the whole area is going to look ridicules with roads, dikes and 
bridges sticking way up in air.   
So much money (our the citizens) has been needlessly spent to raise dikes and road when 
instead all we wanted and needed was an outlet.   
  
People from other states and even North Dakota are amazed that nothing has been done to give 
us some relief.  If we had been a bigger community something would have already been done.  
Instead, our country is letting the citizens in this area suffer alone.   
  
Do we want an outlet like the one proposed?  NO NO NO   
Don't make us suffer even more!  
  




                                                    1
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Gary & Connie [garville@gondtc.com]
Sent:                 Saturday, August 06, 2011 7:47 AM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Cc:                   Gary S. Verville
Subject:              Emailing: !cid_000e01cc4d3e$92016da0$0a00a8c0@HAL918.jpg
Attachments:          !cid_000e01cc4d3e$92016da0$0a00a8c0@HAL918.jpg


From: Gary & Connie <mailto:garville@gondtc.com>   
To: steven.j.clark@usace.army.mil  
Cc: Gary S. Verville <mailto:garville@gondtc.com>   
Sent: Saturday, August 06, 2011 6:27 AM 
Subject: Tolna Coulee Advance Measures Project near Devils Lake, N.D 
 
Are you still living at your place on Six Mile Bay?  It's pretty much an island now with the 
road submerged. 
Lots more places are getting swamped I'm afraid.  I see so many from the air. 
Huck 
  
  
  
  
  
Do I want this to go forward?  Absolutely not! 
We are no longer able to live in our home that has 3 feet of water sitting in it.  Our septic 
system is under water.  The electricity, phone service, and rural water has been shut off.  
The road allowing me access to my home is under water. 
When we built our home, we put it on the highest hill.  People thought we were crazy to build 
so far away from the lake.  There was a 30 foot sloping hill between us and the lake.   
We have watched neighbor after neighbor move out because of the flooding of the past 17 
years.  This was our year!  How many more?  Will there be a community left?   
Enclosed is a picture that was sent to me by email.  Our house is in the dead trees at the 
front of the picture.  My aunt and uncles farm can be seen about half way ‐‐ that house was 
burned last year.  
 This was my grandfather's, father's, and now my brother's farm that is being flooded in back 
part of the picture.   
My mother's house (87 years old) is in the trees there.  She has no access to her home.  The 
well on the place had to be plugged.  A new well was dug on dry land to water the cattle.  
The electric company pulled the power to that well this spring.  
I could go on and on but I think you get the picture.  We do not need any structure that is 
going to make the coulee erode any slower than it has.   
Let's take water off the lake this fall NOW not next year.  With a structure you would be 
stopping the pumps just like they are now on the west end outlet.   
Let the water flow naturally!  Nature has taken it's course for 17 years and nobody wanted to 
help us.  Now all of a sudden when it is about to flow on it's own and give us some relief‐‐ 
you want to block it.   
I SAY NO  
Connie Verville  
enclosed PHOTO  
  
     
The message is ready to be sent with the following file or link attachments: 
!cid_000e01cc4d3e$92016da0$0a00a8c0@HAL918.jpg 
 

                                                 1
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Sharon Buhr [buhr@csicable.net]
Sent:                 Sunday, August 07, 2011 11:49 PM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              CORRECTION:Comments on the USACE Environmental Assessment, Tolna Coulee
                      Advance Measures Project near Devils Lake, ND
Attachments:          DL.Sharon comments.doc; ATT1095915.htm; Flood facts and strategies.docx;
                      ATT1095916.htm


Please note a correction...paragraph 4: the Sheyenne River watershed above Valley City almost 
4000 sq miles and the Devils Lake watershed is almost 4000 sq miles, so adding 
them together would be 8000 sq miles (not the 800 I wrote).  I apologize for the error in 
original document. 
Sharon and James Buhr 
 
 
Begin forwarded message: 
 
 
      From: Sharon Buhr <buhr@csicable.net> 
       
      Date: August 7, 2011 8:23:42 PM CDT 
       
      To: steven.j.clark@usace.army.mil 
       
      Bcc: Sharon Buhr <buhr@csicable.net>, Mary Ann Sheets Hanson 
<masheets@asantenetwork.org>, Dick Betting <rebetting@gmail.com>, Madeline Luke 
<mzlnd@yahoo.com> 
       
      Subject: Comments on the USACE Environmental Assessment, Tolna Coulee Advance Measures 
Project near Devils Lake, ND 
       
 
 




                                                 1
August 6, 2011

Steven J. Clark
US Army Corp of Engineers
180 East 5th Street Suite700
St. Paul, MN, 55101-1678

Dear Mr. Clark:

Comments on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers July 14, 2011 Draft Environmental
   Assessment, Tolna Coulee Advance measures Project near Devils Lake, ND

The proposed CORPS project is designed around the statement that Valley City and
downstream towns and people are at risk of a catastrophic flood should Devils Lake
overflow at Stump Lake into the Tolna Coulee. Should the lake overflow, and should
erosion occur the stop logs would be removed, and potentially 3000 cfs would come
through if they are all removed. Because the logs cannot be replaced, that would put
Valley City at risk of receiving 3000 cfs all the time. This would certainly put Valley
City and downstream individuals and towns at definite risk of flood.

Note that presently Valley City is in the midst of a flood. The Sheyenne River today is at
16 feet (moderate flood stage) with 4100 cfs flowing through it. If 3000 cfs were to come
from Devils Lake we would be at 7000 cfs which would be very near our record flood
stage of 2009, and again in 2011. This also does not take into account more rain which
could occur.

The project has not planned in the building of dikes in Valley City so that the city would
be protected when the river levels reach 7000 cfs which we had in 2009 and 2011. The
project has not planned how to protect the farmers who live on the river downstream or
other communities such as Lisbon and West Fargo.

If the stop logs are removed, that will double the watershed of the Sheyenne River above
Valley City from approximately 4000 square miles to 800 square miles. As stated that
brings in twice the water that is presently coming into the river.

If the scientific method is used, which is what we would expect the CORPS to use, then a
thorough evaluation of the problem and a thorough evaluation of the solutions should be
done, choosing the solution that will hurt the least number of people and including the
mitigation that would need to be done if the solution harms people as it is carried out.

AN EVNIVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDY NEEDS TO BE COMPLETED to
thoroughly understand and address this enormous problem in a scientific way. This
EA is not adequate.
In November of 2009 over 700 people in this area presented a petition to the governor
and other officials asking for an EIS.

This spring over 900 people, through a petition stated that :
   1. Tolna Coulee be armored at 1458 with NO water-release structure attached.
   2. No outlet be built on the east end of Devil’s lake or Stump Lake
   3. A moratorium be placed immediately on future upper basin drainage, existing
       drainage regulations be enforced, and significant restoration of upper basin
       wetlands be accomplished
   4. A comprehensive mitigation plan for downstream damages be in place and funded
       before the first shovel is turned on any new outlet.

To solve this problem of Devils Lake rising, please consider storing water in the upper
areas of the Devils Lake watershed. I have also attached the US Fish and Wildlife Report
which identifies that by storing water in that upper part of the basin, it will prevent water
from entering Devils Lake.

The State Water Commission repeatedly have told residents here related to the pumps
that presently are pumping water out of the west end of Devils Lake that they will turn
them off if Valley City area gets a big rain. They did not turn the pumps off until two
days later when the big rain came that has caused this flood. One may therefore question
whether the State Water Commission will act responsibly related to pulling out the logs
in the ‘control’ structure.

Should you decide to go on with this project, please plan in mitigation. As our former
mayor of Valley City stated at the CORPS meeting August 2, don’t we deserve equal
treatment compared to what Devils Lake received? Or consider buying us out right now,
before the project starts.


Thank you for accepting our comments.

Sharon and James Buhr
Valley City, ND
      Flooding in the Devils Lake and Red River Valley Watersheds
           A Complex Situation – A Comprehensive Solution


Problem: Frequent Flooding Issues within the Devils Lake and Red River Valley Watersheds

Purpose: To propose solutions which can reduce flooding while providing for improved quality
of life, prosperous agriculture, flourishing communities, improved water quality, abundant wildlife
and healthy habitats, increased quality outdoor recreation, all which support compatible long
term economic growth and environmental health.

Landscape practices which may intensify flooding issues in both the Red River Valley
and Devils Lake Upper Basin. (Talking Points about the problem)
   • Grassland and wetland resources have been removed from the landscape at a very high
      rate and no longer provide floodwater attenuation
   • Agricultural lands comprise 80-90% of the landscape
   • Agricultural lands are now designed to move water quickly off fields to accommodate
      planting operations
   • Our changed landscape intensifies flooding in many areas of our State.
   • Future drainage projects including increased tile drainage (RR Valley and now moving
      into the DL Upper Basin), breakouts of Conservation Reserve Program contracts have
      the potential to increase the magnitude of future floods

Key Actions to resolve Landscape Level Flood Issues
   • Incentivize programs through the USFWS and USDA that will assure conservation
      programs are available and used in both the Red River and Devils Lake Basins
   • Use federal, state and local dollars to implement flood solutions which will benefit our
      entire citizenry, metropolitan as well as rural
   • Where appropriate, offer “willing seller” buy-out offers to affected landowners and use
      this land for recreation, tourism and economic development
   • Landscape actions to address a myriad of societal functions is paramount to our future
   • Assess current programs which may conflict or be incompatible with flooding issues (i.e.
      is Federal, State or Local governments subsidizing tile drainage, ditching, and if so,
      refrain)
   • Continue to use funding for programs designed to slow water flows or hold it longer on
      the landscape
   • Promote programs designed to directly store or reduce flows into rivers and Devils Lake
   • Create a guide to flood mitigation for landscape level flooding issues
   • Potentially create a new emergency watershed initiative whereby government agencies
      incentivize and pay for “new” wetland storage. Storage can be calculated as actual
      wetland storage within wetland basins, or increased water infiltration via a program of
      native and non-native grass plantings on upland acreage
   • Investigate the feasibility of using in coulee storage to retain water primarily in the Devils
      Lake Upper basin for the purposes of floodwater attenuation and reduction of spring and
      fall floodwater events
   • Require the use of mulch tillage and increase incentives to agricultural producers who
      use low or no-tillage agricultural methods, and who grow crops which may be more
      landscape friendly with increased water storage or water usage



                                                 1
   •   Store water where is falls across the basin. There needs to be “shared responsibility” in
       water management. Currently downstream residents, agricultural producers, and
       communities suffer, while upstream individuals see growing profits


Science to Support Water Management Implementation:

Upper Basin - Wetland Storage

Wetland and their restoration can provide the following functions;

   •   “The results of the analysis of eight watersheds in Iowa suggest that a program of
       storing runoff in upper basin depressional areas to lessen the risk of floods, under a
       variety of reasonable circumstances, led to tangible savings to social welfare by
       preventing downstream flood damages to communities”. Manale, A. 2000. Flood and
       Water Quality Management through Targeted, Temporary Restoration of Landscape
       Functions: Paying Upland Farmers to Control Runoff. Journal of Soil and Water
       Conservation. Vol. 55, #3, pp. 285-295.

   •   “Wetland drainage for agricultural use has significantly decreased wetland storage
       volume”. Dahl, T. E. 1990. Wetland losses in the U. S., 1780’s to 1980’s. Washington
       D.C.; U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, 13p.

   •   “Wetland catchments also remove large quantities of water via transpiration and
       evaporation”. AND “Although a relatively slow process, wetlands also recharge
       groundwater supplies through infiltration”.
       Shjelfo, J.M. 1968. Evapotranspiration and the Water Budget of Prairie Potholes in
       North Dakota, Geological Survey Professional Paper 585-B.

   •   “A recent study of the Devils Lake Basin (976,000 ha) in North Dakota however found
       that small wetlands could contain 81,000ha-m (657,000 acre-feet) of water, equivalent to
       about 72% of the total runoff volume from a 2 year frequency runoff and 41% of the total
       runoff volume from a 100-year frequency runoff”.
       Ludden, Albert P., Frink, Dale L. and Douglas H. Johnson. 1983. Water storage
       capacity of natural wetland depressions in the Devils Lake basin of North Dakota.

   •   “A watershed comprised of 4-5% wetlands would have a 50% reduction in peak flood
       period compared to a watershed lacking wetlands”.
       Novitski, R.P. 1985. The effects of lakes and wetlands on flood flows and base flows in
       selected northern and eastern states. In H.A. Gromman, et al. (eds.) Proc. Wetland
       Conference of the Chesapeake Environ. Law Institute, Wash., D.C.

   •   “Prairie pothole wetlands are important to local and regional hydrology. Wetland
       drainage has been implicated as a cause for the doubling of flood frequencies since
       1950 on the Red River in Manitoba”
       Rainey, W.F. 1980. The Red River flood control system and recent flood events. Water
       resources Bull. 16 207-214.
   •   “Significant increases in flow on the Maple, Wild Rice and Goose Rivers have occurred
       over the last 30-40 years. Flow rates were shown to be related to climate (precipitation);
       however, there appears to be no change in precipitation patterns to account for the
       increase in flow rates. Predicted flow rates were shown to be closely related to changes

                                                2
       in basin size due to land drainage in the Maple and Goose River basins. It appears that
       land drainage is a factor aggravating flooding problems in Eastern North Dakota…”
       Brun, L. J., Richardson, J. L., Enz, J. W., and J.K. Larsen. 1981. Stream Flow Changes
       in the Southern Red River Valley of North Dakota. North Dakota Farm research, Vol. 38,
       pp: 11-14. NDSU Catalog: Periodical 630.72 N 81.09.

Additional supporting documents specifically targeting storage potential within the Devils Lake
Upper Basin:

                              Devils Lake Upper Basin Studies
   •   Author: Ludden, A.P., D.L. Frink and D.H. Johnson. 1983
           o Estimate of wetland acreage (drained and undrained) (Remaining: 412,000 acres)
           o Storage: 2 year event-116,000 ac/ft
           o Storage: 100 year event- 435,000 ac/ft
           o Maximum total storage- 657,000 ac/ft
   •   Author: Sprynczynatyk, D.A. and A.J. Sapa. 1997
           o Total drained or altered- 100,490 acres
           o Estimated storage based on 60,000 acres drained or altered-156,000-294,000
               ac/ft
   •   Author: Sapa, A.J. 1997
           o Estimate of drained wetlands-189,000 acres (palustrine-lacustrine wetlands)
           o Range of storage in drained wetlands-491,400-926,100 acre feet
   •   Author: West Consultants. 2001
           o Drained wetlands in Devils Lake Basin-92,429 acres
           o Storage in drained wetlands- 132,729 acre feet
           o Total storage of wetlands- 614,333 acre feet
   •   Estimated evaporation rates in wetlands- 25.32 inches annually
   •   Estimated evapotranspiration rates in wetlands- 29.9 inches annually (Average ND
       Prairie Pothole Region)
   •   Estimated seepage- 7.2 inches annually

These are but a few example of scientific literature supporting the idea that wetland restorations
will decrease water flows to downstream neighbors, and can provide additional benefits such as
ground water recharge, point and non-point source pollution filtration, increased carbon
sequestration, and improved recreational values.

Upper Basin - Upland Storage

Upland restoration also serves to perform similar tasks, while not directly retaining water within
wetland basins, but rather attenuating surface runoff during all periods of inundation (spring
through fall). The following documents support this notion that a carefully planned and fully
implemented plan of upland restoration will perform comparable floodwater storage objectives;

   •   “Conversion of grassland into cropland during the 12-year period increased bulk density
       by 10.5% and soil erodibility by 46.2%; it decreased soil organic matter by 48.8%, soil
       organic carbon content by 43%, available water capacity by 30.5%, and total porosity by

                                                 3
       9.1% for the 0-20 cm soil depth...” Evrendilek, F., and Celik, I., and S. Kilic 2004.
       Changes in Soil Organic Carbon and other physical soil properties along adjacent
       Mediterranean forest, grassland and croplands ecosystems in Turkey. Journal of Arid
       Environments 59 (2004) 743-752.

   •   “This difference is due, in part, to the ability of plants to slow runoff and increase
       infiltration capacity of the soil. Consequently, conversions of cultivated cropland to
       grassland cover as part of conservation programs results in a reduction in surface water
       runoff, and ultimately, reduce the rate at which a basin fills and overflows…” Gleason et.
       al. 2008. Ecosystem Service derived from Wetland Conservation Practices in the United
       States Prairie Pothole region with Emphasis on the U.S. Department of Agriculture
       Conservation Reserve and Wetland Reserve Programs: U. S. Geological Professional
       Paper 1745, 58p. http://www.usgs.gov/pubprod.

   •   “Perhaps most significantly, large scale grassland restoration even in uplands could
       provide beneficial to flood mitigation…” Gerla, Phillip J., 2007. Estimating the Effect of
       Cropland Conversion on Peak Storm Run-off. Restoration Ecology Vol. 15., No. 4, pp.
       720 – 730.

   •   “Non-vegetated catchments have less capacity to mitigate excessive surface runoff,
       resulting in wetland water levels that are more variable than those landscapes
       dominated by grasses and forbs…” Euliss, N.H. Jr., D.M. Mushet. 1996. Water level
       fluctuations in wetlands as a function of landscape condition in the prairie pothole region.
       Wetlands. Vol. 16, No. 4. Pp. 587 – 593.

   •   “In addition, relatively high soil porosity in unmanaged grasslands, vis-à-vis soil
       structural development, soil organic matter, and root channel macropores, resulted in
       high infiltration. In contrast, cultivated fields typically have reduced organic matter, soil
       structure, and soil porosity when compared to uncultivated fields, resulting in reduced
       infiltration and greater runoff…” Voldseth, et al. 2007. Model Estimation of Land Use
       Effects on Water Levels of Northern Prairie Wetlands. Ecological Applications, 17(2),
       2007. pp.527-540.

   •   “The long term water level data presented in this paper show conclusively that when the
       catchments of small prairie wetlands were converted from cultivated land to undisturbed
       brome grass the wetland dried out and remained dry, even in years of heavy
       precipitation. It is likely that brome grass, with its tall stiff stems, is particularly effective
       in reducing soil moisture, trapping snow on catchment slopes and inducing infiltration
       snowmelt moisture…”Van Der Kamp, G. et al. 1999. Drying out of small prairie wetlands
       after conversion of their catchments from cultivation to permanent brome grass. Journal
       of Hydrological Sciences. 44(3) pp. 387-397.


Future Steps and Creation of a Comprehensive Plan for Devils Lake Upper Basin Storage

There is a growing need for implementing a comprehensive Devils Lake Upper Basin water
management plan to address the rising problems of flooding, including the Devils Lake Basin.

The goal should be reduced floodwaters into Devils Lake, but deriving objectives to achieve this
goal requires influential, open minded policy makers whom understand the landscape and its


                                                   4
ability to capture water on the landscape and reduce flooding. The intent of this document is to
utilize existing programs, and incentivize potentially new programs available from federal
(and/or) state agencies while working with the private citizenry residing in the upper basin. This
is a community problem and requires a community solution. The following are some potential
actions which may promote floodwater attenuation, while providing financial incentives to
producers who suffer from crop production losses;

   •   There is an immense need for landscape conservation and flood mitigation efforts for our
       local citizenry.

   •   Flooding will surely continue and while infrastructural remedies may improve local quality
       of life, transportation security et al., and these efforts do nothing to combat the
       impending disasters from future flooding.

   •   Promote the Wetland Reserve (WRP) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) via the
       U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2012, many thousands of acres of CRP throughout
       North Dakota will expire resulting in conversion of planted grasslands to crop production.
       This will exacerbate downstream flooding in the DL and Red River watersheds. This
       must be addressed and if possible, steps taken to relax rules or offer “voluntary”
       extensions of WRP/CRP contracts to landowners who are willing to accept them.

   •   Creation of a new, special program, for landowners in the Devils Lake Upper Basin, and
       fully incentivize this program to promote wetland restoration and grassland restoration
       for Devils Lake Upper Basin producers. Offer the programs with USDA Farm bill
       programs, and allow the USFWS and NDGF to assist with restoration activities.

   •   Investigate Federal crop insurance rules, find areas where preventative planting acreage
       has become an annual occurrence, and target these lands for restoration with
       incentives.

   •   Investigate “in-coulee” storage programs which have the potential to retain large
       volumes of water. Examples of this practice exist on federal lands, and the creation of
       more retention techniques, with partnerships and engineering design expertise via the
       State Water Commission and non-governmental partners such as Duck Unlimited, Inc.,
       and Bartlett and West Engineers.

Many do not believe or are skeptical that wetlands and/or upland restoration can be crucial in
water management or that drainage has any affect on flooding. Research says otherwise, and
this document sheds light on a possible direction which can assist with flood mitigation in
addition to the Devils Lake outlet and infrastructural repairs.

For more information, contact:

The Devils Lake Wetland Management District
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(701) 662-8111




                                                 5
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Clark, Steven J MVP
Sent:                 Thursday, August 04, 2011 9:58 AM
To:                   Cimarosti, Daniel E NWO
Subject:              RE: Tolna Coulee Advance Measures Draft Environmental Assessment (UNCLASSIFIED)


Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
Dan ‐ Thanks for the comments.  I have attempted to provide a response to each below: 
 
1)  The decision to base outflow on erosion but with a limit of 3,000 cfs was made to reduce 
adverse effects on the lake (allow it to fall in a manner similar to what it would without 
the project), while preventing the catastrophic release of as much as 14,000 cfs (or about 
9,000 cfs with a 2009‐level inflow) downstream.  We believe that full erosion of the coulee 
would occur at a flow much less than 3,000 cfs, so we do not believe that the structure would 
affect the ultimate level of erosion in the coulee.  Furthermore, as the structure and 
operating plan are designed now, it would have no effect on flows or erosion, until the 
coulee erodes to the point that it would pass at least 3,000 cfs. 
 
2)  We will consider providing some clarifying language in the Final EA.  Briefly though, the 
structure may prevent erosion upstream of it because it could slow the water enough reduce 
the erosion.  We are unsure of this though, hence the wait‐and‐see approach.  It is likely 
the St. Paul office that would review the report on this, though your office may need to 
review it for a 404 permit application. 
 
3) On‐site borrow areas are included in the survey.  Any off‐site borrow area would need to 
be surveyed by the contractor. 
 
4, 5, and 6) I will provide clarification in the 404 evaluation as suggested. 
 
If you have any further comments or questions, please let me know.  Thanks. 
 
Steve 
 
‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐ 
From: Cimarosti, Daniel E NWO  
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2011 12:51 PM 
To: Clark, Steven J MVP 
Subject: RE: Tolna Coulee Advance Measures Draft Environmental Assessment (UNCLASSIFIED) 
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
Morning Steve, 
 
Below are my comments in conjunction with the subject document. 
 
1) Part 2.3.2.2 Operating Plan, Operating Plan Rules, 7), page 16 ‐ The EA states "Stoplogs 
will be removed to the new elevation that exists after erosion has occurred.  This will be 
conducted in a manner not to exceed a discharge of 3,000 cfs." 
 
Suggest that releases be made in consideration of current inflow and estimated volume that 
passed if there were no structure.  By using downstream erosion only, 3,000 cfs could 
continually be released.  As additional erosion occurs, the sill could be lowered to maintain 
                                                  1
3,000 cfs.  If consideration of current inflow and predicted volume are used, releases would 
not continually be 3,000 cfs.  During July 2011, Stump Lake inflow ranged from approximately 
60‐100 cfs; these types of inflows should be considered and the determination to maintain 
3,000 cfs should not be made solely on downstream erosion. 
 
 
2) Part 4.1.4 Potential Future Inlet Channel, page 27 ‐ The EA states, "...the structure may 
alter or impede erosion upstream of the structure, inhibiting the flow of water from Stump 
Lake over the control structure to the eroded elevation on the downstream side.  Therefore, 
an inlet channel may need to be dredged, the North Dakota State Water Commission would 
provide to the Corps a report containing..." 
 
Suggest an explanation of how the structure would impede or inhibit flow may help the reader 
understand why this channel may be required. 
 
Suggest specifying which Corps office the SWC should send their report. 
 
 
3) Part 5.3.3 Cultural Resources and Tribal Coordination, page 42 ‐ EA states, "The North 
Dakota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is being coordinated with regarding the 
results of the recent Phase I cultural resources survey of the project area." 
 
Suggest the borrow sites be included in cultural resource survey. 
 
 
4) Appendix C, Part II Factual Determinations, B. 3. Normal Water Level Fluctuations, Page 4 
‐ EA states, "The proposed fill activities would have no effect on normal water level 
fluctuations on the site or within Devils Lake and Stump Lake." 
 
Suggest rewording or explaining since the project purpose is to prevent catastrophic release 
of water from Stump Lake; that implies an impact to normal water fluctuation. 
 
 
5) Appendix C, Part II Factual Determinations, Parts E, F, and G, page 5 ‐ Statements include 
"no appreciable effect", "minor adverse impacts", "no adverse effects" should be supported.  
If the justification for the assessment is contained within the EA, maybe a reference 
applicable part which supports that statement would help.  HQ Regulatory has mentioned that 
any effects statement should be justified. 
 
 
6) Appendix C, Part II Factual Determinations, Part H Determination of Secondary Effects on 
the Aquatic Ecosystem, page 5 ‐ EA states, "No significant secondary effects would be 
expected". 
 
Suggest referring the reader to applicable areas in the EA if the justification for this 
statement is contained within the EA.  Some may contend that preventing a catastrophic event 
is a significant impact and that an EIS should have been completed. 
 
 
 
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
 
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
                                              2
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Csajko, William L MVP
Sent:                 Tuesday, August 09, 2011 2:56 PM
To:                   'Madeline Luke'
Cc:                   Palmberg, Brett T MVP; Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              RE: EA (UNCLASSIFIED)


Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
Madeline ‐ 
 
Here are responses to your first three questions: 
 
1. We assume you are asking if the BARR report is close to “what would occur” for natural 
conditions.  The BARR report represents the best available data related to erosion at Tolna 
Coulee.  The erosion conclusions of the BARR report appear reasonable based on the soil 
characteristics of Tolna Coulee. 
 
2. We assume you are interested in “difference in velocity” for with and without project 
conditions at the location of the natural high points.  Models show no difference in average 
channel velocity at the natural high points for a “natural overflow” and “flow constrained by 
the control operated in the manner [described]”.  Because the control structure is located 
thousands of feet upstream of the high points, average channel velocity has returned to the 
same as “without project condition” at the high points.  The control structure could cause 
higher localized velocities near the stilling basin than would naturally occur in the 
vicinity.  Erosion protection (a concrete stilling basin and rock) is provided in the area 
immediately downstream of the control structure.  The stilling basin is discussed further in 
the response to Question 3. 
 
3. The function of the stilling basin is to aid the transition from the high velocity flow 
over the control structure to lower velocity flow downstream of the structure.  This 
transition often results in significant local turbulence in and around the stilling basin.  
Riprap (rock) is provided for 100 feet downstream of the stilling basin to resist local scour 
and protect the structure. 
 
In your last message you said that you thought the information in the EA is "incomplete," and 
would like the public review period extended.  Steve Clark is the environmental specialist 
for the EA and you may contact him regarding any request for extensions. 
 
 
Bill 
 
‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐ 
From: Csajko, William L MVP  
Sent: Wednesday, August 03, 2011 12:38 PM 
To: Madeline Luke 
Cc: Palmberg, Brett T MVP 
Subject: RE: EA (UNCLASSIFIED) 
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
Madeline ‐ 
 
                                                   1
Sorry for taking so long to reply to this.  I need some input from my hydraulic engineer to 
properly respond to the first three questions, and he has been out on another project the 
last week. 
 
With regard to the other questions: 
 
4. No, the North Dakota State Water Commission will own the lands upon which the structure 
will be built, along with the structure and related features.  The city of Devils Lake will 
continue to own the two high points.  Access to the site will probably be similar to what 
currently exists.  The walkway over the structure will be fenced and locked, and the 
equipment for operating the stop logs will be removed when not in use, but otherwise the 
public could physically approach the structure. 
 
5. The once a month criterion is a minimum.  The state would most likely visit the site much 
more frequently if it becomes operational.  The state plans to have a webcam at the site, 
and, as noted in the last question, the walkway over the structure will be fenced and locked. 
 
I will respond to your first three questions once my hydraulic engineer returns. 
 
 
Bill 
 
‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐ 
From: Madeline Luke [mailto:mzlnd@yahoo.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 11:11 PM 
To: Csajko, William L MVP 
Subject: RE: EA (UNCLASSIFIED) 
 
Bill, 
Thank you for the prompt reply. 
1.In regards to the flow , since this is supposed to mimic natural erosion, should I assume 
that the flow in the Barr report are close to what would occur? 
2. What would be the difference in velocity between a natural overflow and flow constrained 
by the control operated in the manner you describe? 
3. Does the stilling pool restore the velocity differential? 
4.Will the Corps own the Tolna Coulee high point , armoring and control structure?Who will 
have access to the site? 
5. Are you serious about someone checking the site once a month only??????are there any plans 
for protective measures such as cameras, chain link fence,guard?Please understand that the 
Cure rally and some statements at the Cooperstown meeting were alarming. 
Madeline 
 
‐‐‐ On Wed, 7/20/11, Csajko, William L MVP <william.l.csajko@usace.army.mil> wrote: 
 
> From: Csajko, William L MVP <william.l.csajko@usace.army.mil> 
> Subject: RE: EA (UNCLASSIFIED) 
> To: mzlnd@yahoo.com 
> Cc: "Clark, Steven J MVP" <Steven.J.Clark@usace.army.mil> 
> Date: Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 8:27 AM 
> Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
> Caveats: NONE 
>  
> Madeline ‐ 
>  
> The flow depends upon the upstream pool level (elevation of Stump 
> Lake) and the downstream tailwater (which would be highly dependent  
> upon the amount of erosion).  So there is no table of flows for given  
                                              2
> stop log elevations.  The intent is to mimic "natural" flow up to  
> 3,000 cfs. 
>  
> We decided to have the three bays at 1457 mainly so that there is no  
> visual perception that the control structure is preventing the lake  
> from overflowing the high point of the coulee.  The configuration will  
> have no effect on when the lake would overflow the high point.  The  
> structure itself was made narrower than if all the stoplogs were at 
> 1458 to account for restricting flows to 3,000 cfs for the 1/2 PMF  
> event. 
>  
> The structure is about 1/4 mile upstream of the first high point. 
>  
> The east end outlet would discharge into Tolna Coulee immediately  
> downstream of the second high point.  I've attached a plan that  
> generally shows each of these features in relation to each other. 
>  
>  
> Bill 
>  
> ‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐ 
> From: mzlnd@yahoo.com 
> [mailto:mzlnd@yahoo.com] 
> Sent: Sunday, July 17, 2011 11:30 PM 
> To: Csajko, William L MVP 
> Subject: EA 
>  
> Bill, 
> A few questions. 
> 1. What are the flows for different level of log removal. 
> 2. Why are 3 log bays at 1457 when water is at 1458. 
> 3. How far upstream from the high point is the control structure? 
> 4. Where does the east End outlet insert into coulee. 
> Sheyenne is still very high, up with each rain. They look awful, but I  
> wish the dikes could be left up. 
> Madeline 
>  
>  
> Sent from my iPad 
>  
> Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
> Caveats: NONE 
>  
>  
>  
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
 
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
 



                                              3
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Csajko, William L MVP
Sent:                 Tuesday, August 09, 2011 2:56 PM
To:                   'Madeline Luke'
Cc:                   Palmberg, Brett T MVP; Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              RE: EA (UNCLASSIFIED)


Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
Madeline ‐ 
 
Here are responses to your first three questions: 
 
1. We assume you are asking if the BARR report is close to “what would occur” for natural 
conditions.  The BARR report represents the best available data related to erosion at Tolna 
Coulee.  The erosion conclusions of the BARR report appear reasonable based on the soil 
characteristics of Tolna Coulee. 
 
2. We assume you are interested in “difference in velocity” for with and without project 
conditions at the location of the natural high points.  Models show no difference in average 
channel velocity at the natural high points for a “natural overflow” and “flow constrained by 
the control operated in the manner [described]”.  Because the control structure is located 
thousands of feet upstream of the high points, average channel velocity has returned to the 
same as “without project condition” at the high points.  The control structure could cause 
higher localized velocities near the stilling basin than would naturally occur in the 
vicinity.  Erosion protection (a concrete stilling basin and rock) is provided in the area 
immediately downstream of the control structure.  The stilling basin is discussed further in 
the response to Question 3. 
 
3. The function of the stilling basin is to aid the transition from the high velocity flow 
over the control structure to lower velocity flow downstream of the structure.  This 
transition often results in significant local turbulence in and around the stilling basin.  
Riprap (rock) is provided for 100 feet downstream of the stilling basin to resist local scour 
and protect the structure. 
 
In your last message you said that you thought the information in the EA is "incomplete," and 
would like the public review period extended.  Steve Clark is the environmental specialist 
for the EA and you may contact him regarding any request for extensions. 
 
 
Bill 
 
‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐ 
From: Csajko, William L MVP  
Sent: Wednesday, August 03, 2011 12:38 PM 
To: Madeline Luke 
Cc: Palmberg, Brett T MVP 
Subject: RE: EA (UNCLASSIFIED) 
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
Madeline ‐ 
 
                                                   1
Sorry for taking so long to reply to this.  I need some input from my hydraulic engineer to 
properly respond to the first three questions, and he has been out on another project the 
last week. 
 
With regard to the other questions: 
 
4. No, the North Dakota State Water Commission will own the lands upon which the structure 
will be built, along with the structure and related features.  The city of Devils Lake will 
continue to own the two high points.  Access to the site will probably be similar to what 
currently exists.  The walkway over the structure will be fenced and locked, and the 
equipment for operating the stop logs will be removed when not in use, but otherwise the 
public could physically approach the structure. 
 
5. The once a month criterion is a minimum.  The state would most likely visit the site much 
more frequently if it becomes operational.  The state plans to have a webcam at the site, 
and, as noted in the last question, the walkway over the structure will be fenced and locked. 
 
I will respond to your first three questions once my hydraulic engineer returns. 
 
 
Bill 
 
‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐ 
From: Madeline Luke [mailto:mzlnd@yahoo.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 11:11 PM 
To: Csajko, William L MVP 
Subject: RE: EA (UNCLASSIFIED) 
 
Bill, 
Thank you for the prompt reply. 
1.In regards to the flow , since this is supposed to mimic natural erosion, should I assume 
that the flow in the Barr report are close to what would occur? 
2. What would be the difference in velocity between a natural overflow and flow constrained 
by the control operated in the manner you describe? 
3. Does the stilling pool restore the velocity differential? 
4.Will the Corps own the Tolna Coulee high point , armoring and control structure?Who will 
have access to the site? 
5. Are you serious about someone checking the site once a month only??????are there any plans 
for protective measures such as cameras, chain link fence,guard?Please understand that the 
Cure rally and some statements at the Cooperstown meeting were alarming. 
Madeline 
 
‐‐‐ On Wed, 7/20/11, Csajko, William L MVP <william.l.csajko@usace.army.mil> wrote: 
 
> From: Csajko, William L MVP <william.l.csajko@usace.army.mil> 
> Subject: RE: EA (UNCLASSIFIED) 
> To: mzlnd@yahoo.com 
> Cc: "Clark, Steven J MVP" <Steven.J.Clark@usace.army.mil> 
> Date: Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 8:27 AM 
> Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
> Caveats: NONE 
>  
> Madeline ‐ 
>  
> The flow depends upon the upstream pool level (elevation of Stump 
> Lake) and the downstream tailwater (which would be highly dependent  
> upon the amount of erosion).  So there is no table of flows for given  
                                              2
> stop log elevations.  The intent is to mimic "natural" flow up to  
> 3,000 cfs. 
>  
> We decided to have the three bays at 1457 mainly so that there is no  
> visual perception that the control structure is preventing the lake  
> from overflowing the high point of the coulee.  The configuration will  
> have no effect on when the lake would overflow the high point.  The  
> structure itself was made narrower than if all the stoplogs were at 
> 1458 to account for restricting flows to 3,000 cfs for the 1/2 PMF  
> event. 
>  
> The structure is about 1/4 mile upstream of the first high point. 
>  
> The east end outlet would discharge into Tolna Coulee immediately  
> downstream of the second high point.  I've attached a plan that  
> generally shows each of these features in relation to each other. 
>  
>  
> Bill 
>  
> ‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐ 
> From: mzlnd@yahoo.com 
> [mailto:mzlnd@yahoo.com] 
> Sent: Sunday, July 17, 2011 11:30 PM 
> To: Csajko, William L MVP 
> Subject: EA 
>  
> Bill, 
> A few questions. 
> 1. What are the flows for different level of log removal. 
> 2. Why are 3 log bays at 1457 when water is at 1458. 
> 3. How far upstream from the high point is the control structure? 
> 4. Where does the east End outlet insert into coulee. 
> Sheyenne is still very high, up with each rain. They look awful, but I  
> wish the dikes could be left up. 
> Madeline 
>  
>  
> Sent from my iPad 
>  
> Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
> Caveats: NONE 
>  
>  
>  
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
 
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
 



                                              3
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Chris & Alicia Hoffarth [cahoffarth@hotmail.com]
Sent:                 Friday, August 12, 2011 2:49 PM
To:                   Csajko, William L MVP; Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              Tolna Coulee Public Input


As residents of Barnes County, ND with property along the Sheyenne River, we are deeply 
concerned about the impacts the proposed Tolna Coulee control structure would have on the 
environment, quality of life, property and livelihood of residents in the area. 
 
While we support every effort to armor the Tolna Coulee as soon as possible to prevent an 
uncontrolled release of water, we cannot support the control structure included.  First, the 
St. Paul District was mandated to develop the least cost alternative to prevent a 
catastrophic release at 1458 ft – the alternative that meets the mandate is the sheet pile 
sill.  The control structure is at request of the State, not a Corp recommended alternative 
and not the least cost alternative at a cost of $3M and does not even meet the directive from 
COE Headquarters.  In addition, the lack of definition and finalization of an operating plan 
are not acceptable to downstream interests.  We believe that a straight armoring (sheet pile 
sill) at 1458’ would be cost effective and a plan that could be put in place prior to the 
spring of 2012 at which time chances of overflow seem to be increasing.  Second, the current 
plan to remove stop logs as the coulee erodes may greatly extend the volume of water and 
amount of time that the Sheyenne River Valley will have to deal with high water levels.  In 
addition, this plan does not allow for the Tolna Coulee to naturally silt back in after the 
high water is gone, but rather creates a long term drain option any time Devils Lake gets 
higher than desired and effectively floods the Sheyenne River Valley year after year.  Any 
effort to take water off the lake should be done in a manner that can be completely 
controlled and discontinued during high flows on the Sheyenne and as soon as a measure of 
relief has been provided to the Devils Lake region.  As noted in the environmental 
assessment, flows of 3,000 cfs would be highly damaging to a river system with a capacity of 
600 cfs! 
 
As we sit here and watch 4000 cfs roll down the Sheyenne River due to heavy rains, it is hard 
to imagine how ANY areas along the Sheyenne or Red River valleys would deal with an 
additional 3000 cfs.  Were the current conditions downstream of Devils Lake even taken into 
consideration?  This is not a situation in which Devils Lake is the only place with excess 
water – we are all dealing with an unprecedented wet cycle and we can barely handle our own 
water much less high flows coming from another area.  Most people along the Sheyenne are 
willing to help, however we can handle only so much.  We need outlets that can be run during 
the winter, controlled and shut down during high flows on the Sheyenne as well as the Coulee 
armored to prevent any flow through it below 1458’. 
 
IF the Sheyenne River is expected to act as a drain for Devils Lake, the Counties, Cities, 
farmers, and landowners within the Valley need Major assistance.  For example, at flows much 
over 3000 cfs, the road leading to our house goes under water.  If Devils Lake is putting 
3000 cfs into the river and we have even normal local flows, our road would be under water 
all summer.  This is in addition to land lost to the water as other issues related to high 
water.  The entire Sheyenne River Valley will need assistance for an extended period of time 
with the expense of treating drinking water, building up state/county/township/private roads, 
building dikes to protect towns and farms, buyouts, etc.  These issues are cost prohibitive 
for private landowners, cities, townships and counties to handle.  
 
Thank you for your consideration of these items. 
 
Chris & Alicia Hoffarth, Valley City ND 
 
                                                     1
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Fred Schumacher [fredschum@gmail.com]
Sent:                 Sunday, August 14, 2011 7:32 PM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              Tolna Coulee comment


Steven J. Clark 
St. Paul District 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
 
Re: Tolna Coulee  
 
I support the State of North Dakota and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in their plans to 
build a control structure within the Tolna Coulee to moderate breakout flows from Stump 
Lake/Devils Lake into the Sheyenne River drainage. 
 
Considering the recent history of higher than normal precipitation and the effects of world 
climate change, especially the northward movement of the Tropical Convergence Zone, the 
question of Stump Lake water breaking out into the Tolna Coulee is one of "when" not "if." A 
heavy localized rain combined with a strong east wind could break through the morass that 
presently blocks Stump Lake from the Tolna Coulee. Last month I made a special trip to the 
Tolna Coulee and the Devils Lake region to get a view of the reality on the ground.  After 
speaking with a local farmer whose land is now under Stump Lake about the weakness of the 
soils in the plug, it is clear that erosion will be very rapid once water starts flowing. 
I've seen, firsthand, similar erosion that in one night produced the washouts in saturated 
soils in the area of Leonard, ND, during the 1975 summer flood. 
 
Uncontrolled outlow from the Stump Lake/Devils Lake chain will be catastrophic to downstream 
residents and land. There is no way to stop that outflow from happening. It has occurred 10 
times since the end of glaciation, according to ND State Geologist John Bluemle. This is a 
force of nature not dependent on the actions of humans. The issues of building a control 
structure and that of the post‐breakout elevations of Stump and Devils Lake and the drainage 
into the basin need to be decoupled. The control structure needs to be built as soon as 
possible; the determination of the elevation of the lakes can be decided at a later time.  
 
My one concern is that, in speaking with the local farmer, I noticed a pattern similar to one 
that has been occurring around the Fargo Diversion Project:  the unwillingness of Corps staff 
to listen to local people. There is pro forma listening occurring in formal hearings, but 
there is not the kind of staff/local interaction that I saw develop during the Kindred 
Dam/Sheyenne Diversion planning process of three decades ago. This is a serious internal 
problem within the St. Paul District office and needs to be addressed in order to ensure that 
the best planning is to become reality and not simply to move forward a plan that staff and a 
handful of proponents prefer but is not in the best interests of everyone in the region. 
 
Sincerely, 
 
Fred Schumacher 
retired Kindred, ND farmer 
 
319 Fulton St. 
Mankato, MN 56001 
 
 
 
 
                                                 1
Water Stewardship                                           Ecological Services Division
                                                            Box 11, 200 Saulteaux Crescent
                                                            Winnipeg MB R3J 3W3
                                                            CANADA

                                                            http://www.gov.mb.ca/waterstewardship/

                                                            August 15, 2011

Chief, Environmental and GIS Branch
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District
180 East 5th Street, Suite 700
St. Paul, MN 55101-1678

c/o Mr. Steven Clark (VIA e-mail at steven.j.clark@usace.army.mil)

              Tolna Coulee Outlet Structure/Draft Environmental Assessment

Dear Mr. Clark:

       With regard to the July 14, 2011 notice from Mr. Terry Birkenstock, Deputy Chief,
Regional Planning and Environment Division North, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, I am
pleased to offer comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Tolna Coulee
Advance Measures, Nelson County, North Dakota.

        As mentioned in my June 1, 2011 comments to Mr. Clark during the scoping process,
Manitoba concurs that the potential risks to downstream communities from an overflow of
Devils Lake are substantial. These include not just potential flooding but also severe degradation
of water quality. Accordingly, Manitoba believes that it is appropriate for the Corps and the
State of North Dakota to proceed with the construction of a control structure at the natural outlet
of Devils Lake at Tolna Coulee in order to avoid the potential effects of the Lake exceeding a
level of 1458 feet above sea level.

        Notwithstanding Manitoba’s concurrence with the purpose of the project as described in
the Corps’ Project Information Report, Notice of Intent, and draft Environmental Assessment,
we would emphasize that the project must not be designed or operated to release water from the
Tolna Coulee region of Devils Lake prior to the Lake reaching its natural overflow level of 1458
feet. As you know, the eastern region of Devils Lake contains water high in sulphate and other
materials and is significantly poorer in quality than elsewhere in the lake. Release of such water
through the Tolna Coulee control structure prior to the lake reaching elevation 1458 feet would


                                                                                        ….Page 2
Page 2
Williamson to Chief, Environmental and GIS Branch
August 15, 2011


cause significant water quality impairment downstream of the international border in the
Canadian province of Manitoba. Moreover, should natural overflow occur and subsequently
recede below 1458, the structure should not be operated unless Devils Lake were to rise again
above 1458 at some time in the future.

       We hope that these comments are helpful and we look forward to working with you as
the National Environmental Policy Act process proceeds.

       Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time at the above
address, by calling (204) 945-7030, or email at Dwight.Williamson@gov.mb.ca.



                                                           Sincerely,




                                                           Dwight Williamson
                                                           Assistant Deputy Minister
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Csajko, William L MVP
Sent:                 Monday, August 15, 2011 2:39 PM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              FW: (UNCLASSIFIED)


Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
 
 
‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐ 
From: Lois Steinhaus [mailto:loisclar@gondtc.com]  
Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 1:56 PM 
To: Csajko, William L MVP 
Subject:  
 
Mr. Csajko’ 
 
I am most certainly opposed to the Tolna Coulee project.  It will do nothing to the  people 
of the Devils Lake Basin except make our lives harder.  To tell us the lake must rise 4 more 
feet is unconscionable.  I have always believed that the government is for the common person 
who pays his bills, pays his taxes, and lives an honest life.  Now I doubt that government. 
 
You say this is the best project plan you can come up with.  Someone in your department has 
to grow a backbone and say,  “This isn’t right.  This isn’t just.  And these people deserve 
better from their government.”   
 
So this is my NO vote for this project. 
 
Sincerely,  
 
Lois Steinhaus 
 
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
 




                                                  1
           Comments regarding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers July 14, 2011
                          DRAFT Environmental Assessment,
             Tolna Coulee Advance Measures, Nelson County, North Dakota

By: Vicki Voldal Rosenau, 521-4th Ave. NW, Valley City, ND 58072
August 15, 2011
                       “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
                               – The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
         Just as the presence in Iraq of WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction) was completely
contrived, so, too, has the specter of an “imminent, catastrophic” overflow of Devils Lake into the
Sheyenne River been cynically fabricated. There were no WMD’s, and there is no imminent danger of
a catastrophic overflow through Tolna Coulee. In both cases, the fictions were invented for the
nefarious purpose of intimidating the citizenry into accepting the unacceptable.
         By now, the reader will have concluded that my comments are offered in disapproval of the
USACE’s July 14 draft EA, and in strong opposition to implementation of the “Tolna Coulee project.”
         The reader may also have surmised that my primary indictment of this ill-conceived plan is that
the plan is nothing more than a key step in the latest incarnation of the infamous Garrison Diversion
Project’s previously-thwarted scheme to provide, at all/any costs, both inlets and outlets to be
manipulated expressly for the purposes of (1) maximizing tourism/fishery-industry profits in the Devils
Lake region; and (2) facilitating the artificial drainage/destruction of the remaining acres
(approximately 210,000) of valuable natural wetlands that exist in Devils Lake’s upper basin.
         The factual bases for censuring the draft EA are numerous. I will offer only a very brief
contribution to the large body of evidence denouncing this stunning proposal.
         The draft EA is fatally flawed because its essential premise is patently false. The project’s
stated purpose is to “prevent catastrophic overflow from Devils Lake through Tolna Coulee,” but there
is absolutely NO scientific evidence (much less “proof”) of an imminent threat of any such
catastrophe. During the last 10,000 years, there have been at least six documented events when Stump
Lake overflowed through Tolna Coulee. However, objective, scientific evidence has established that
the coulee did NOT erode during any of those events. In fact, the geologic evidence shows that
sediments were actually DEPOSITED and so the level of the Tolna Coulee was raised during those
overflows. Therefore, in the absence of additional human mischief-making/intervention at this time,
there is no reason to assume that a Stump Lake overflow would result in a catastrophic event.
         By using specious apples-to-oranges comparisons in several instances, the draft EA commits
the most basic of logical fallacies. In addition, the draft EA is so flawed and haphazardly composed
that it repeatedly undermines its own unsupportable catastrophic-overflow premise. E.g., its authors
state on page 28 that “Under the Probably Future, there would be no overflow or erosion of the
coulee.”
         Far from assuring prevention of a Tolna Coulee overflow of Devils Lake, the proposed Tolna
Coulee Project cannot even assure that the so-called control structure will, as widely claimed, “…limit
flows from the lake to no more than 3,000 cfs in the event of an overflow and erosion of the coulee.”
This abject failure was brought to light via a substantive exchange between Barnes County resident
Henrik Voldal and State Water Commission engineer Bruce Engelhardt during the Corps’ July 28,
2011 public hearing held at the Valley City High School.
         The July 14, 2011 Draft Environmental Assessment fails utterly to justify the proposed Tolna
Coulee Project.
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Csajko, William L MVP
Sent:                 Monday, August 15, 2011 2:38 PM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              FW: Comment on the Tolna Coulee project. (UNCLASSIFIED)


Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
 
 
‐‐‐‐‐Original Message‐‐‐‐‐ 
From: Trana Rogne [mailto:tranarogne@gmail.com]  
Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 2:20 PM 
To: Csajko, William L MVP 
Subject: Comment on the Tolna Coulee project. 
 
Dear sir  
I wish to comment on the USA Army Corps of Engineers project on the Tolna Coulee. 
I attended the hearing at Valley  City held by the corp and the  State Water Board.   Thank 
you for  doing a hard job well. 
The control structure is apparently a drain for the Devils Lake.  No controls of flow 
regardless of inflow to the lake.  Not mitigation for down steam citizens.  No concern for 
the impacts as far as West Fargo.  It is not acceptable to promote such a plan.  The 
government is to take care of all citizens not to flood one group out for the betterment of 
one group.  The plan needs a control on outflow with controls on inflow.  With mitigation for 
any down stream impacts.  The plan needs to be revised or stopped.  This plan impacts the FM 
diversion negatively, a project of the Corps. 
 
Trana Rogne 
5477Co Rd #1 
Kindred ND 58051 
701‐367‐8911 
‐‐  
 
 
 
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE 
 
 




                                                  1
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Leon Pytlik [leon_nwi@hotmail.com]
Sent:                 Monday, August 15, 2011 3:41 PM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              Sheyenne River


Dear Sir: 
  
RE: Devils Lake drainage into Sheyenne River 
  
       Back in the mid‐1960's I worked in Devils Lake. Just south of the railroad trestle 
there was a sign very high on a pole that showed the level of Devils Lake some time in the 
past. 
  
       In the late 1980's and early 1990's they were pleading for more water because Devils 
Lake was so low. To remedy that situation, they drained several hundred thousand acres of 
wetlands into Devils Lake. About that time the weather cycled into a normal to above normal 
moisture pattern, and the lake began to rise. 
  
       Now, after over a billion  dollars have been spent raising dikes and roads around 
Devils Lake. The one thing they haven't tried is turning off the drains. In addition a water 
board in the Devils Lake area recently gave their blessing to draining even more wetlands 
which will raise Devils Lake another 6 inches. 
  
       The water in Devils Lake is so bad that the city of Devils Lake doesn't use the water 
for their drinking water. But. they want to send it down river, where Valley City gets it's 
water from the Sheyenne River. Nobody can tell us how much more the water treatment costs 
will be‐ forever! 
  
       The EPA guidelines for sulphates is 250. In the Sheyenne they okayed 450 and then 750‐ 
3 times the Federal limit. This says nothing  of other pollutants such as mercury, lead, 
cadmium, arsenic, chloride. herbicides, pesticides, etc. This is contrary to what the EPA and 
the Health Department should be doing. 
  
       IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THERE BE AN INDEPENDENT , OUT‐OF‐STATE environmental impact 
study done on the effects of Devils Lake water on those of us downstream from Devils Lake, as 
well as farm animals and wildlife. The Sheyenne River has about 50 species of fish, Devils 
Lake had about 11. There are 9 mussel species in the Sheyenne, none in Devils Lake. THERE HAS 
TO BE A REASON. 
  
       It is now August 15, 2011. The Sheyenne is more than 10 feet above normal summer 
levels. The erosion is a very serious issue, leaving little or no room for diking to prevent 
damage from flooding in the future. 
  
       I want to thank you for considering this information. 
  
                                                                                              
Respectfully, 
                                                                                              
Leon Pytlik,416 Main St, W. Valley City, ND 58072 
  
  
         
  
 
                                                    1
                                                               August 15. 2011

Chief, Environmental and GIS Branch
St. Paul District
Corps of Engineers
580 5th Street East, Suite 700
St. Paul, MN 55101-1678
Attn: Mr. Steve Clark Steven.J.Clark@usace.army.mil

Re: Comments of David R. Conrad regarding the July 14, 2011 Draft
Environmental Assessment Regarding Tolna Coulee Advance Measures, Nelson
County, North Dakota, St. Paul District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul,
Minnesota

Dear Steven Clark and St. Paul District officers:

As a matter of introduction, I have been actively involved for more than three
decades in a wide variety of federal-level planning for water resource
development, management and conservation regarding the Sheyenne and Red
River Basins of North Dakota and Minnesota through both my professional and
volunteer work with local, regional and national conservation and civic
organizations. I have actively followed and commented on a broad range of plans
generated by the federal government, the State of North Dakota and others that
would significantly affect these rivers and the people and natural resources
located both within and outside the region. Over the years, I have also been an
active member of a number of these organizations and have visited the Devils
Lake, Sheyenne River and Red River areas on numerous occasions to use and
appreciate these resources personally for their recreational, cultural and natural
resource values.

I provide these comments on the Corps’ Draft Environmental Assessment
Regarding Tolna Coulee Advance Measures (DEA), out of a serious concern that
through this DEA the Corps of Engineers’ is proposing certain actions which are 1)
                                          1
ill-advised and poorly conceived, 2) are beyond the Corps’ current authority and
have not been authorized by Congress, 3) could ultimately result in substantially
expanding flooding risks, especially to downstream communities, and, 4) are
likely to result in significant adverse impacts to the human environment and to
the region’s water resources, including degradation of water quality, fish and
wildlife habitat and aquatic-based ecosystems in North Dakota, Minnesota and
Canada. The Corps’ Draft Environmental Assessment and Draft Finding of No
Significant Impact have failed to identify and recommend a project that is within
the Corps’ current authority and which properly complies with the basic
requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. As a result, the Corps
must set aside the July 14, 2011 DEA and either develop a new Draft
Environmental Assessment, correcting these deficiencies and abandoning the
plans that would permanently lower Devils Lake as part of the project, or initiate a
new Draft Environmental Impact Statement that reconsiders and addresses the
purposes and needs and fully describes, considers and analyzes the full range of
environmental impacts and appropriate alternatives that must be addressed
under NEPA and federal environmental statutes.

   1. The Corps improperly invokes P.L. 84-99 Advance Measures authority for a
      project design that is intended to permanently lower the level of Devils
      Lake.

Major flaws with the Corps’ use of the P.L. 84-99 authority to construct the DEA-
recommended Tolna Coulee project (embankment with sheetpile core and
stoplog control structure) are: 1) the assertion that there currently exists an
“imminent threat” of catastrophic release of flow through the Tolna Coulee and,
2) the addition of plans for a control structure that essentially is designed to
permanently lower Devils Lake levels from the lake’s current maximum level of
1458 feet to 1446 feet above sea-level. The latter addition would reduce Devils
Lake’s natural storage by more than 2,000,000 acre-feet, thus opening the
downstream Sheyenne and Red Rivers to long-term impacts and much more
frequent flooding and degraded water quality on a permanent basis.


                                         2
The Chief of Engineers’ P.L. 84-99 (33U.S.C. 701n) authority is limited only to
situations “to protect against imminent and substantial loss to life and property;”
(emphasis added). The Corps’ regulations at 33 CFR Part 203, Subpart F, make
clear that use of “advance measures” is intended to be limited to instances of
“imminent threat of unusual flooding” and “[P]rojects will be designed for the
specific threat, normally of expedient-type construction, and typically temporary
in nature.” (33CFR Sec.203.71) “The threat must be clearly defined to the extent
that it is readily apparent that damages will be incurred if preventative action is
not taken immediately.” (33CFR Sec.203.72)

Regarding the likelihood of imminent catastrophic release of flow through the
Tolna Coulee, the DEA itself identifies there is only an 18 percent chance that
Devils Lake and Stump Lake will rise to a spill level of 1458 feet msl by 2030 – 19
years from now, assuming the State’s releasing of 600 cfs from the existing west
end and planned east end outlets. (DEA, p. 28). This would mean that there is a
more than 80 percent chance that such a spill level will not be reached by 2030.
The DEA finds there is a about a 9 percent chance of Devils Lake and Stump Lake
reaching a spill level of 1458 feet msl by Spring of 2012, but that at the same time
means approximately a 91 percent chance that the lake will not reach that level
by the Spring of 2012. And even if the lakes did reach that level, there would still
be no spill at that level, let alone a catastrophic one. Just to reach a 1458 feet
above msl level would require an annual inflow of 900,000 acre-feet (U.S.
Geological Survey, 2010; DEA pp. iii, 18). A 900,000 acre-feet inflow would be 1.5
times the record 2009 annual inflow to Devils Lake (585,000 acre-feet), which
again, is highly unlikely, and has a 91 percent chance of not occurring. Thus, it is
not credible to assert – as the Corps has in the DEA – that there is an “imminent
threat” of a catastrophic release. In addition, the average annual evaporation
rate at Devils Lake is 29 inches annually (West Consultants, Inc., 2001). Given the
larger area of Devils Lake, evaporation continues to consume increasingly large
amounts of Devils Lake volume; thus, the amount of inflow must be ever-
increasingly-larger to raise the lake level – even by an inch.



                                         3
Finally, even with an annual inflow of 1.5 times the record 2009 inflow, there
would be no spill and therefore no erosion, and it would further require the
equivalent of an additional Standard Project Flood within the same period to raise
Tolna Coulee flows to a level of any substantial flows (e.g. > 1000 cfs) to
precipitate erosion. (Note that the historic record evidences no significant
erosion in previous episodes of overflows.) In the Corps’ 1999 MVD Devils Lake
Division/District (Tiger) Team Technical Report, the Corps estimated
approximately a 1 chance in 70,000 of such an occurrence. These facts suggest
that the Corps abuses its discretion in asserting “imminent threat”, particularly
where the Corps insists that project construction must be completed under an
emergency P.L. 84-99 authority, thereby waiving the basic requirement of
Congressional authorization and setting an arbitrary and artificial deadline so as
to preclude full and adequate environmental review as required by law.

I call the Corps’ attention to comments in this docket provided by Dr. Gary
Pearson regarding this Draft Environmental Assessment. Dr. Pearson has provided
an even more detailed discussion of these concerns regarding lack of an imminent
threat.

   2. Failure to fully consider and evaluate all reasonable alternatives and the
      Corps’ improper addition of a control structure to lower Devils Lake levels.

In the Project Information Report (PIR) (March 22, 2011), the Corps considered 4
potential alternatives: 1) No Action; 2) Riprap Protection; 3) Sheetpile Sill; and, 4)
Embankment and Spillway, and then recommended the $8.2 - $14 million
sheetpile sill alternative because it was found to be “the least-cost alternative”
and would “provide similar benefits to the other action alternatives considered
with no more significant environmental consequences.” (PIR p. 2) In the case of
each of the three action projects, Riprap Protection, Sheetpile Sill, and
Embankment and Spillway, the Corps said these were designed to prevent erosion
from progressing past the high point at Tolna Coulee and therefore to prevent
catastrophic release of flows from Devils Lake. (Note that none of the
alternatives in the PIR included reasonable steps or actions to reduce the
                                          4
likelihood of and/or total volume of flows if spill may someday occur, such as
purchase of wetland or water retention easements or restoration of wetland
acreage in the Upper Devils Lake Basin to increase total annual evaporation and
reduction of total inflows in the long term. This is presumably because the Corps
has wrongly focused only on utilizing the emergency PL 84-99 authority.)

It is of major concern that in the course of formulating the DEA-recommended
plan, the Corps chose to eliminate further consideration of the original action-
alternatives and to consider only a no-action alternative and a new combination
alternative with a basic purpose to facilitate permanent lowering of Devils Lake
and Stump Lake levels and supporting a major reduction of these lakes’ total
water retention capacity. This outcome is “justified” by the Corps on the
unproven assumption that upon the lake rising and exceeding the spill elevation
(now at 1458 feet msl), the Tolna Coulee would “naturally” erode from lower in
the Tolna Coulee upstream toward the Coulee’s crest, and eventually, the effect
of the erosion would be to lower the lake level by degrading the Coulee and spill
the lake’s water. It is not credible to assume that the Corps’ Tolna Coulee control
structure 1 would operate in an entirely passive mode and not actually impact on
and, in fact, accelerate erosion of Tolna Coulee. By its nature, the Corps
recommended project design narrows the natural channel width from 465 feet to
120 feet (reducing the width by 74%), it streamlines and accelerates flows
through concrete channels, and, in a major flow event, would increase water
elevation and erosive energy, especially on more erosion-prone portions of the
Tolna Coulee channel, including where the City of Devils Lake has previously
excavated and removed vegetative cover making the area more erosion-prone.




1
 While the control structure is to be paid for by the State, the control structure is
integral to both the Corps’ project design and its operating plan and the entire
project is therefore clearly a single Corps project.
                                          5
However, having abandoned the erosion prevention options from the PIR 2 and
then simply ignoring the project’s contribution to the erosion of Tolna Coulee,
and having adopted as project purpose to not impede and promote erosion of the
Tolna Coulee to assist in draining over 2,000,000 acre-feet of the lake’s worst
quality water, the Corps has scoped its review to ignore the major, significant,
large-scale adverse impacts on the human environment which will likely
accompany the recommended project. Many of these impacts would have been
mitigated or avoided with the alternatives “eliminated early” in the Corps’
planning and DEA. The Corps has failed in the DEA to consider, analyze and
compare the environmental impacts of the three PIR action alternatives with the
recommended alternative and no-action alternative.

I would again refer the Corps to more extensive comments provided on this
docket by Dr. Gary Pearson in this regard, but major, significant environmental
impacts (some of which were identified and recognized by the Corps in the
District’s previous 2003 Final Devils Lake, North Dakota Integrated Planning
Report and Environmental Impact Statement (St. Paul District)), have been utterly
ignored by the Corps, based on its improper elimination of PIR alternatives and its
fundamentally flawed DEA analysis. Such unrecognized and analyzed impacts
include: the Corps’ failure to analyze impacts from reducing lake levels of
exposure of more than 100,000 acres of bare mud-flats and lands of marginal and
degraded agricultural value, and at the same time the loss of more than 100,000
acres of waters that support the region’s multi-million fishing and tourism
industry, providing spawning and nurturing habitat and invertebrate and
vertebrate forage for commercially valuable sport fisheries; major changes and
degradation of downstream habitats; substantial and chronic bank full and
overbank flooding conditions; declining Sheyenne River and downstream forest
habitats; increased downstream water quality degradation, including sediment


2
  The key originally-stated criteria for justification of the Tolna Coulee Project in
both the PIR and DEA is: “The project must prevent a catastrophic outflow from
Devils Lake through Tolna Coulee, either by preventing erosion or restricting
flows.” (DEA pp. 6, 9)(emphasis added)
                                           6
load, major erosion, increased dissolved solids, high salinity and sulfate
concentrations, diminished invertebrates and benthic populations, and higher
downstream concentrations of toxic selenium, cadmium, boron and other
contaminants, and potential significant and chronic water quality violations of the
U.S.- Canada Boundary Waters Treaty; increased sediment and lost storage in
Lake Ashtabula; the cumulative effects of the alternatives with other projects
currently being planned; and the potential permanent loss of 1,526,680 acre-feet
of Devils Lake storage and another up to 237,125 acre-feet of annual Devils Lake
evaporation (by permanently eliminating lake storage from 1458 feet msl to 1450
feet msl), and 2,042,474 acre-feet of storage and up to 309,970 acre-feet of Devils
Lake average annual evaporation (by permanently eliminating lake storage from
1458 feet msl to 1446 feet msl), depending on outcomes of the projects, thus
drastically and permanently increasing the frequency and magnitude of overflows
to the Sheyenne and Red Rivers, and increasing downstream flooding and erosion
for communities downstream, as a result.

Clearly the impacts of such changes in the Devils Lake, Sheyenne and Red River
Basins would be of enormous magnitude and significance by any rational
measure, and the failure of the Corps to identify, analyze the implications of, and
compare the impacts among these alternatives is a major and fatal flaw of the
DEA, which must and should be corrected. Each and all of these conditions must
be thoroughly identified and analyzed, and where appropriate, avoided or
mitigated. The Corps should immediately abandon the current DEA and Draft
FONSI and initiate a new Draft Environmental Impact Statement process to
address appropriate and rational approaches to the related water problems of the
Devils Lake, Sheyenne River and Red River Basins.

   3. Expand Analysis to Include Upper Basin Storage.

If the Corps wishes to ultimately benefit the affected communities involved – in
North Dakota, Minnesota and Canada – the Corps should reconsider the approach
that was recognized as “important”, but rejected in the DEA (p.9) to “prevent
water from entering the lake, such as projects to increase upper basin storage. .
                                         7
. “ An EIS is the appropriate vehicle for identifying and addressing appropriate
solutions for these waters in an effective and timely basis. Additionally, the Clean
Water Act Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines (40 CFR Part 230) and Corps regulations
require the Corps to select the least environmentally damaging practicable
alternative, taking into consideration avoidance, minimization and mitigation of
impacts to the waters of the United States. Clearly, the DEA recommended
project will have major adverse impacts on the waters of the United States,
whereas other alternatives (particularly alternatives emphasizing increased upper
basin storage and minimizing the potential for Stump Lake spill) could greatly
reduce these adverse impacts. The Corps should identify and analyze the impacts
of such alternatives as part of a full Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Conclusion.

Thank you for considering these comments. Please feel free to contact me at
conrad.david.r@gmail.com, or at 202-365-0565, if you have questions or if I may
be of further assistance.



      Sincerely,   David R. Conrad




                                         8
Clark, Steven J MVP
From:                 Jerry Gemar [gemar@drtel.net]
Sent:                 Monday, August 15, 2011 11:11 PM
To:                   Clark, Steven J MVP
Subject:              Devils Lake -Tolna Coulee Control Structure.


Dear Steven Clark, 
  
The general thoughts of the council for the City of Lisbon are as follows, regarding the 
proposed controlled structure on the Tolna Coulee.   
  
First and foremost We would much prefer a structure that can be shut off during normal spring 
flooding and heavy rain events such as what we are experiencing right now. We have beet told 
that this structure would allow a maximum 3000 cfs. However, 3000 cfs would be catastrophic 
if we were to get that in the spring or under our current conditions. Understanding that 3000 
cfs is a very low percentage, it is possible. And the plan to leave the logs out once they 
are taken out would mean what ever flows into Devils Lake would run out of the lake at the 
same time and not be able to be contained in time of need, also sounds like a bad plan for 
downstream interest. Perhaps some deed restricted land to a certain level should be aquired 
to use the lake as a resivior would work. 
  
We are in hopes that this controlled structure will never see Devils Lake water, hoping the 
other planned outlets will be put in place and lower the lake in time.  
  
Our main concerns are the potential increase in flow during flooding and the increase in 
erosion that we will most definitely see downstream are going unchecked by the State of North 
Dakota and the Corp 
of Engineers. It is clear to us that there is only concern for the Devils Lake area. We are a 
city that has been tapped of financial resources and have no way to address the concerns of 
permanent levee and erosion control. We are asking for help for engineering, and construction 
of whatever is needed to keep our city safe.  
  
We are sending a request to the State Water Commission, which is on it’s way, too help us in 
this matter. If you have suggestions please let me know. 
  
Jerry Gemar 
701‐680‐2093 
  
  
  




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