KHRT ND News – 08/17/21

KHRT NEWS – TUESDAY – 081721 – 1200
 
MINOT, ND – The International Souris River Study Board has released its draft report and recommendations for public comment. The report, “Managing Water Supply and Flood Control in the Souris River Basin,” recommends potential reservoir operation options to improve flood control and water supply. The public comment period began August 16th and runs through September 7th. You may comment online, via email or by mail. Details can be found at the board’s website at ijc.org/en/srsb.
 
During this period, the study board will hold a virtual public meeting and gather feedback on the report to be compiled and considered for inclusion in its final report to the International Joint Commission (IJC). Registration information will be posted at the board’s website at ijc.org/en/srsb.
 
The study board was established by the IJC in 2017 in response to a request by Canadian and United States governments. The request
was precipitated by an unprecedented 2011 flood in the Souris River basin. The basin is part of the Prairie Pothole Region and stretches across Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Canada, and extends into North Dakota in the United States.
 
The governments asked the IJC to coordinate the full completion of the 2013 IJC Plan of Study, a post-flood activity. As part of this, the IJC was asked to evaluate and make recommendations regarding the Operating Plan contained in Annex A to the 1989 International Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America for Water Supply and Flood Control in the Souris River Basin. Among other items, the agreement coordinates the operation of certain dams and reservoirs in the basin.
 
Although the study was precipitated by the historic 2011 flood, the basin also frequently experiences low water supply periods. The Souris basin is currently experiencing very dry conditions due to below average precipitation in the fall and winter of 2020. Spring runoff also was below normal this year throughout the basin and summer conditions continue to be dry.
 
The study board findings and recommendations cover five themes:
 
– Reviewing the performance of the operating plan in the 1989 agreement
– Strengthening water supply and flood control benefits
– Improving data collection and management
– Addressing other water management challenges in the basin
– Building on the study’s engagement and outreach including initiating a new approach to engaging with Indigenous peoples in both countries.
 
Study board leaders wrote in a transmittal letter to the IJC that they believe the draft report responds in a practical and comprehensive manner to the challenge issued by the governments of Canada and the United States to identify opportunities to improve flood control and water supply security in the international basin. They added their belief that the draft report reflects and reinforces the two countries’ long history of sound, cooperative management of the basin’s waters.
 
The report and its recommendations were developed from an expert review of operating plans of structures contained in the 1989 agreement. A Public Advisory Group, Resource Agency Advisory Group and Indigenous advisers also provided substantive input for the study board’s considerations in the development of the report. Public meetings and advisory group workshops were carried out on numerous occasions throughout the study.
 
Study experts analyzed the current operating plan using a range of scenarios in a reservoir simulation model. Potential alternatives to the current plan were evaluated for those scenarios in the model to determine if there could be improvements to the operation of the reservoirs. The report describes both the strengths of the existing plan and potential benefits and impacts of the refinements studied.
Canadian agencies involved in the study include Environment and Climate Change Canada, Manitoba Sustainable Development and Saskatchewan Water Security Agency. U.S. agencies include the US Geological Survey, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, North Dakota Department of Water Resources (formerly the State Water Commission), North Dakota Game and Fish Department, and North Dakota Department of Health.
 
Following a review of comments from the public, the draft report will be revised as applicable and submitted to the International Joint Commission. The Commission will have until January 2022 to review the report and may conduct additional public consultations before delivering its final report and recommendations to the federal governments.
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BISMARCK, ND – Law enforcement agencies across the state will have extra patrols for the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement period Aug. 20 to Sept. 6, 2021. The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) and the North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP) remind drivers to always drive free from impairment of alcohol and/or prescription or illicit drugs.
 
North Dakota has 47 Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Law Enforcement Officers across the state that are specially trained in recognizing if a person is under the impairment of drugs. Drug-related impairment can be different than alcohol impairment and includes restlessness and exaggerated reflexes. All North Dakota drivers should take personal responsibility and always drive free from impairment.
 
“The training that our DREs go through is rigorous, but it is vitally important to have these officers on patrol to identify drivers who may be impaired to remove them from the road,” said DRE Coordinator and State Trooper Tarek Chase. “Dangers from impaired driving aren’t only from alcohol or illicit drugs. Drivers should read the label on all prescriptions they take and verify if it impacts the ability to drive.”
 
Preliminary crash fatalities in 2021 are trending higher than 2020 with 65 fatalities as of Aug. 12, 2021. Many lives would be saved in North Dakota each year if every driver consistently makes the choice to always drive sober, designate a sober driver or use a ride-hailing service.
 
This reminder is a part of the Summer H.E.A.T. (Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic) strategy and Vision Zero initiative to eliminate motor vehicle crash fatalities and serious injuries on North Dakota roads. Summer H.E.A.T. will take place through August to encourage everyone to wear a seat belt, use appropriate child passenger safety seats, follow all posted speed limits and drive sober and distraction-free.
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BISMARCK, ND – The North Dakota Game & Fish Department says five of the six boat ramps on Lake Aububon will become unusable in the coming weeks. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is planning to lower the Lake Audubon water level for repairs and maintenance to the Snake Creek Pumping Plant. Lowering of the lake will begin this week and should reach the full drawdown elevation around Oct. 1. The East Totten Trail boat ramp near U.S. Highway 83 will remain usable throughout the drawdown. However, the remaining five boat ramps will become unusable and be inoperable until the lake is refilled, which is expected to be around mid-November.
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BISMARCK, N.D. – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring announced the launch of a new online local foods map with a user-friendly search tool designed to help consumers find a specific North Dakota business, farmers market or product.
 
“The new map catalogs the state’s local producers, the type of food they sell and where the consumer can buy it,” Goehring said. “The map is a great tool to connect with and support local growers and producers.”
 
The map also shows on-farm sales, roadside stands, CSAs, retail food businesses, u-picks, wholesale options, online ordering opportunities and more.
 
Goehring encouraged all local food producers to create a profile. The map will allow producers to maintain their own profile, with the information displayed on the map. Consumers may search by product, location or name and have the ability to message the producer or find them where they sell products. The map can be found on the Ag Department website at nd.gov/ndda
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – TUESDAY – 081721 – 0700
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Bakken Energy and Mitsubishi Power Americas say they are acquiring a synthetic natural gas plant in western North Dakota and plan to redevelop it to produce renewable energy. The deal to purchase the Great Plains Synfuels Plant from Dakota Gasification Co. is expected to be finalized by next April. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. The plant near Beulah is part of a proposed hub announced in June to produce clean hydrogen, which has a variety of uses including powering vehicles and energy generation. Gov. Doug Burgum has hailed the project a key part of the state’s plan to become carbon neutral by 2030.
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BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (NDDEQ) advises residents to consider limiting prolonged outdoor activities while smoky conditions fluctuate across the state. Wildfires located in the western portion of the United States and in Canada are sending smoke across North Dakota.
 
Extremely small particles of ash and soot, or particulate matter, have increased over the last day across the western part of the state. Particulate matter can irritate the respiratory system, especially for those who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or conditions such as asthma and allergies. The NDDEQ advises people with respiratory conditions, the elderly, and young children to avoid prolonged outdoor exposure. High particulate numbers, coupled with higher temperatures over the next few days, could heighten the complications. People reacting to smoke to the extent that it affects breathing should seek immediate help from a medical provider.
 
The NDDEQ’s Division of Air Quality is closely monitoring its air sampling network across North Dakota. Although most of the smoke impact currently seems to be concentrated in the western part of the state, weather conditions could push smoke to other portions of the state in the next several days. As the drought continues, these conditions will likely reoccur over the coming weeks. For up-to-date information on the region’s current air quality and tips on respiratory protection during a smoke event, visit airnow.gov. Tune into your local weather station for additional information.
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BISMARCK, N.D. – The public should anticipate minor delays at the Sportsman’s Centennial Boat Ramp on Lake Sakakawea. The Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with the North Dakota State Water Commission will collect soil data from the lakebed of Lake Sakakawea in preparation for a project feature of the Northwest Area Water Supply Project.
 
A barge, soil-drilling rig and other associated equipment will be launched from the boat ramp. A crane and several semi-trailer trucks will
be positioned and used at the boat ramp for off-loading and loading of this equipment into the lake. The semi-trailer trucks will enter the boat-launching queue at the ramp to minimize temporary delays.
 
The anticipated start date of this work is Aug. 30, 2021, and will take up to 10 days to complete, weather permitting. Temporary delays at the boat ramp will only occur on the first and last day of the work. Once the equipment is launched, it will be positioned in the forebay of the Snake Creek Pumping Plant. No public impacts are expected due to the barge’s presence in this area of the lake.
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BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum thanked General Counsel Leslie Bakken Oliver for her service to the Governor’s Office and the State of North Dakota on Monday after she announced her retirement pending the transition to a new general counsel.
 
Oliver has served in the Governor’s Office since Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford took office on Dec. 15, 2016. She earned her law degree with distinction in 1991 from the University of North Dakota School of Law. Following a one-year clerkship with the North Dakota Supreme Court, Oliver entered private practice and became a shareholder with the Vogel Law Firm, concentrating her practice in employment and health care law.
 
“Leslie has been an integral member of the Governor’s Office team and a great partner for these past four and a half years, helping us navigate unprecedented challenges and serve North Dakota citizens as efficiently and effectively as possible to empower people, improve lives and inspire success,” Burgum said. “We are deeply grateful for her exceptional counsel, caring approach and enthusiastic support of team members in the Governor’s Office and beyond, as well as her succession planning and commitment to stay on until her successor is onboarded, allowing for a smooth transition. We wish her all the best in her next chapter.”
 
During her time in the Governor’s Office, Bakken Oliver has been a strong supporter of efforts to address addiction and recovery, criminal justice reform and expanded services to citizens with disabilities. In addition, she helped facilitate successful actions taken to address a string of emergencies including flooding, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic. Bakken Oliver also played a key role in North Dakota’s settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice outlining actions the state will take to expand home and community-based care services and enable individuals with physical and other disabilities to live in the least restrictive setting possible.
 
“It has been an incredible privilege serving the citizens of North Dakota as general counsel to Governor Burgum,” Bakken Oliver said. “The decision to leave was bittersweet – I look forward to spending more time with family, but will miss the dynamic, inspiring and energetic Governor’s Office team and a position that has been rewarding, meaningful and thoroughly enjoyable.”
 
The general counsel position will be posted immediately.
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 

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