- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Property owners around Rice Lake in Ward County are getting a reprieve from flooding this spring, and efforts to battle the chronic problem are in good financial shape.

Rice Lake rose for five straight years beginning in 2011, causing more than $3 million in losses. This spring, it has risen by only about one-third of a foot, compared with the typical 1 foot annual rise in recent years, according to Jarid Lundeen, spokesman for the Rice Lake Recreation Service District.

The district has about $1.7 million in state money for work to shore up roads and protect the sewer system. The state Legislature in 2015 approved $2 million in aid for the lake, and only about $300,000 was used last year, resulting in the leftover funds, Lundeen said.

Rice Lake has about 200 waterfront lots, nearly half of which have been inundated in recent years. More than 100 structures including dozens of homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Projects this year aim to raise and secure sewer lift stations and raise and widen a road that circles the lake. Officials have been worried about lake water seeping into the lift stations and compromising the sewer system, and a better road is needed to accommodate school bus traffic and improve safety for all motorists, according to Lundeen.

“We are working hard on stabilizing this lake so it can be a gem of Ward County again,” he said.

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