- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - The Ward County Commission is forming a committee to develop a plan to battle chronic flooding at Rice Lake, including using $2 million in state aid.

The commission last month decided to hire an expert consultant to find funding, but County Emergency Manager Amanda Schooling this week said it might be premature to seek outside help. A consultant with the state Department of Emergency Services advised her that the chance of getting grants is slim without having a plan of action in place, she said.

“We would be mostly spending money and not getting money,” she said.

Rice Lake has risen five straight years, causing more than $3 million in losses. Dozens of the 205 lakefront lots have been inundated or are in danger of being swamped. The lake right now is up 1 foot over its highest mark last year, despite the dry spring, according to County Building Inspector Mike Larson.

State lawmakers during the recently concluded legislative session approved $2 million in aid for the lake. Rice Lake Recreational Service District board chairman Jarid Lundeen said the new committee can develop a strategy to use that money before it is allocated in July.

The state Health Department also might help with funding to address sewer system problems, Lundeen said. State Environmental Health Chief Dave Glatt is expected to tour the lake region later this month.

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