by Janet Hansen
No one visiting the Maple River Dam, located approximately eight miles northeast of Lisbon, would know that, only a few months ago, the water had nearly reached the top of the spillway and spread out over a wide area of the countryside. However, by taking a closer look, one can see where the brown shaded ground cover, where the water once stood, reaches the brighter green grass above.
The water, at its high point this spring, filled the spillway, with the force of the water spraying water over the spillway’s upper wall. The dam, which controls floodwater from a 900-square-mile watershed, has 60,000 acre-feet of flood-water storage. At full capacity, it would temporarily inundate 2,800 acres of land.
The dam consists of a 70-foot high earthen embankment. The “dry dam” stores flood-water immediately after a flood, but empties, automatically, once flood waters recede, through its spillway system.
Kent and Sandy Bartholomay, who live near the dam, state that they believe area flooding would have been much worse this spring had it not been for the dam. They comment that they could hear the roar of the water being held back by the dam this spring from their farm home about a mile away as the crow flies.
Construction on the dam began in the fall of 2004 and was completed in the summer of 2007. The total cost of the project was about $29.75 million, with funds coming from the state of North Dakota, the Red River Joint Water Resource District, the Cass County Joint Water District, and special assessments.
The dam is designed to provide flood protection along the Maple, Sheyenne, and Red rivers. It is the fourth phase of the Sheyenne River Flood Control Project. The other phases are the West Fargo Sheyenne River Diversion, the Horace to West Fargo Sheyenne River Diversion, and the five-foot flood pool raise at Baldhill Dam near Valley City.
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