- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - The effort to remove debris from the chronically flooded Rice Lake is moving ahead, but it’s costing Ward County a lot more in engineering fees than first anticipated.

HDR Engineering of Bismarck is administering the cleanup and also applying for federal disaster funding. The company was promised $50,000 but needs another $75,000 to complete the work, spokesman Dennis Reep said. The county Water Resource Board on Wednesday voted to increase the engineering fee cap to $125,000.

Rice Lake has risen five straight years, causing more than $3 million in losses. There are an estimated 77 inundated parcels of land with more than 100 structures including 35 homes that need some type of cleanup.

The county earlier this summer warned lake property owners to clean up their flooded lots or authorities would do it for them.

Many homeowners have heeded the warning, but there has been no action on about 10 properties. The county will contract the work and assess the costs to the property owners.

The county is advertising for bids, which are to be opened Sept. 11. The County Commission could act on the bids Sept. 15, allowing work to begin in October and wrap up by mid-November.

Work also is being done to stabilize the sewer system in preparation for possible flooding next spring, said Jarid Lundeen, president of the Rice Lake Recreational Service District. District officials also plan to meet with county officials about raising and widening roads this fall.

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