- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 10, 2014

DOUGLAS, N.D. (AP) - A district judge has put a stop to plans for a $6 million pipeline to relieve chronic flooding at Rice Lake in north central North Dakota.

The Rice Lake Recreation Service District does not have the authority under state law to use eminent domain to obtain land along the proposed 11.5-mile route of the pipeline to transfer excess lake water into Douglas Creek, Judge Richard Hagar said in his ruling.

“If the Legislature wanted to give municipalities and recreation service districts condemnation powers for flood control projects they would have specifically laid out flood control projects as part of the statute,” the judge wrote. “RLRSD argues they have statutory eminent domain or condemnation authority to take property for a flood control project. This court disagrees.”

The Rice Lake board of directors did not immediately respond to Hagar’s ruling, the Minot Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1pAndVD ).

Rice Lake, where more than 150 people own property and some live year-round, has risen four straight years, damaging or destroying about 30 homes. Officials have raised roads, worked to protect sewer and water services and pumped some floodwaters onto county-owned land under a lease agreement.

A landowner group called the Friends of Douglas Aquifer opposed the plan for a pipeline that would cross private property, fearing it could lead to downstream flooding of pasture and hay land.

Spokesman Ron Kramer said members of the group “will continue to stand up and fight for our rights no matter the cost.”

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Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com