Devils Lake, Stump Lake become one body of water
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (AP) - Flooded Devils Lake and nearby Stump Lake have become the same level for the first time in nearly two centuries.
Both lakes reached 1,447.15 feet above sea level on Sept. 13.
"We now have, for the first time since at least the early 1800s, a uniform lake surface that includes Stump Lake," said Greg Wiche, director of the U.S. Geological Survey's North Dakota Water Science Center in Bismarck.
The lakes have been expanding since a wet cycle began in the early 1990s. If that cycle ends, evaporation likely will separate the two bodies of water again.
Devils Lake has risen about 25 feet since 1993, tripling in size and swallowing homes, roads and farmland. Starting in 1999, water from the lake began flowing toward Stump Lake to the east. Two years later, officials said, the flow became measurable. It has increased every year since, until the two lakes became one.
At 1,447.15 feet, Stump Lake's surface area is 14,950 acres, while Devils Lake's is 124,800 acres. The combined surface area is 139,750 acres.
Geologists figure that if not for the flow into Stump Lake through the years, the elevation of Devils Lake would be about 3 feet higher than it is.
"That's significant," said Mike Connor, manager of the Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource Board. "Stump Lake was our relief. Now, the relief is gone."
A state-built $28 million outlet drains Devils Lake water into the Sheyenne River, though opponents say the flood relief it provides does not justify the cost.
If the wet cycle continues, the elevation of Devils Lake and Stump Bay will rise together. If it reaches about 1,459 feet above sea level, water from the combined lake will start flowing into the Sheyenne River naturally.