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Plants shut down after dam goes to 0 release

With recent flooding along the Missouri River in the Bismarck and Mandan areas, the U.S. Crops of Engineers made history March 24 when they shut down the flow of water coming out of the Garrison Dam and into the Missouri River, eliminating the flow to zero cubic feet per second. The stopped flow of water had major effects on the southern part of the state, and when battling massive ice dams along the Missouri, this stop caused huge benefits to flood victims and communities. With no water coming into the Missouri, local residents closer to the dam were feeling the negative impacts. Due to the zero output from the dam, two major power plants near Stanton were forced to go offline and shut down operations on Thursday. The Basin Electric Power Cooperative's Leland Olds Station and Great River Energy plants both shut down beginning at 8:45 a.m. when Basin Electric took their first unit offline. GRE shut down their first unit at 11 a.m. and their second boiler unit was taken offline at noon. Due to different intake levels for the two units at Basin Electric, they were able to keep their unit two operational until 2:30 p.m. Thursday. With their facility completely offline, Basin Electric spokesman Darryl Hill said, "This is the first time that we have ever had to take both units offline due to the situation with water levels." When asked if the plant ever planned to be in this situation with low water levels causing both units to go offline, Hill said, "I don't think anybody did. This is the first time in the history of the dam that they have ever shut the dam completely off." GRE spokesmen Lyndon Anderson also said this is the first time their plant has had to shut down due to low water levels. In both plants, employees continued to work throughout the shut down. "There will continue to be a staff at the station because it will be a relatively short time period," Anderson said. "During the time of shutdown they will do minor maintenance work, cleaning of certain components. There is always maintenance at the plant." "When you have a situation like this, you do have the opportunity to do some maintenance work. There is a list of things that we need to do, and since it is a fairly short-term duration, we will get that done while the plant is offline," Hill said. The duration of the plants' shutdown depends entirely on the decisions made at the Garrison Dam. On Thursday, the dam was reopened to 3,000 cubic feet per second, but Anderson said that the plant would need more than 3,000 cfs to go back online. Hill said that the river level would have to rise at least 2 feet before the units could be restarted. By Friday afternoon the dam had increased their outtake to 6,000 cfs. Once the water is released, Anderson and Hill said that it will take approximately 10-12 hours to feel the effects downstream, and raise the water levels to the necessary point for both plants. "It's going to take a good 10 hours from the time that they release enough water, until we can even think about getting back up," Hill said.

Posted 4/01/09 (Wed) read more »

Flood of 2009

On the morning of March 24, 2009, the Knife River was higher than it had ever been. Edwin Oster could tell by the post of his mailbox. "It was just about halfway up the post," Oster said Wednesday morning. "There's still a chunk of ice hanging on it." To back up Oster's observation, United States Geological Survey personnel measured the Knife River at 31.4 feet Tuesday morning in Hazen - over 4 feet higher than the river's measured crest in Hazen on March 23, 1997. The measurement might have been skewed by ice jams, however, as Hazen emergency workers measured the river's crest at 27.26 - still above the mark set in 1997.

Posted 3/26/09 (Thu) read more »

County talks flood, city officials get proactive

If your home flooded in 1997 you should be prepared to have water issues again this year. "In a moderate melt the homes that had trouble in '97 are going to experience problems again," Mercer County Emergency Manager Richard Sorenson said.

Posted 3/18/09 (Wed) read more »

Natural gas numbers are in

The people have spoken - in Hazen, anyway. The Hazen City Commission reviewed results of a survey Monday evening that gauged residents' feelings on the city establishing a municipal natural gas utility, as well as if the resident would consider signing up for natural gas service. For the city of Hazen to get natural gas, the utility must be owned by the city. With 303 surveys returned, 54 percent responded yes, they would be in favor of the city establishing a municipal natural gas utility. Though when asked if they would consider such a service in their own home, 58 percent said no. The most common reason cited for not using the service was that they are already using electric heat in their home. Although the results were not the 60 percent approval the commission previously said would convince Major Pipelines L.L.C., of Grand Rapids, Mich., to build - Hazen City Planner Steve Frovarp said the company representatives still seemed optimistic. "They reported they had financing all lined up to go before survey results were in," Frovarp said. "They think that they might be able to convince more once they're here." In fact, Frovarp said Major Pipelines representatives said that they secured $12-$15 million for the project in the last few weeks. Construction and installation costs were tentatively noted to be $2.5 million for Hazen and Beulah each, and another $5 million to get pipeline up and running - which would be split between the two communities.

Posted 3/18/09 (Wed) read more »

Flamingos fighting MS in Hazen

It wasn't his birthday - at least that he knew of, anyway, joked Reuben Gutsche, Hazen. But he knew there had to be some special explanation for why he counted 15 pink flamingos milling about his front-yard snow banks Thursday morning. There was a special explanation, indeed. The pink, plastic lawn ornaments are part of a local fundraising effort to find a cure for multiple sclerosis. The notoriously noble effort is the doing of Lorisa Newman, Ha

Posted 3/11/09 (Wed) read more »

Mercer County puts road project on hold

The county was banking on big bank - but the funds fell short in the federal stimulus package, leaving them to abandon the shovel-ready summer project scheduled for County Road 20 west of Beulah. In original estimates, county engineers were forecasting around $350,000 from President BarackObama's $787 billion federal stimulus package for the project. The actual check came in written for $238,600, said Steve Mamer of Interstate Engineering.

Posted 3/11/09 (Wed) read more »

City asks for federal funds

The full extent of joys and letdowns has yet to be seen, but the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been passed by Congress - and the Hazen City Commission is hopeful it will help them purchase and install new water meters. In a meeting of the commission Monday evening, the commission approved a letter requesting placement on the Drinking Water Project Priority List and $215,000 from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for installation of new water meters that will replace outdated meters throughout Hazen.

Posted 3/04/09 (Wed) read more »

FEMA likely to 'Bypass' Hazen flood protection

Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives and contracted engineers visited Hazen city officials last Wednesday to report that the State Highway 200 Bypass running through Hazen would most likely no longer classify as a levee. For the citizens of Hazen, the news could be a kick to the wallet.

Posted 3/04/09 (Wed) read more »

City prepares for spring thaw

Recent warm temperatures may have cleared the frost from the Hazen City Commission's crystal ball. In reaction to recent warm temperatures and rain that have already caused water to leak into a few garages and basements, the commission approved the purchase of 10,000 sandbags and reviewed the city's flood insurance policy at their regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening.

Posted 2/25/09 (Wed) read more »

County hopes state takes 21

About five years ago, it cost Mercer County $100,000-125,000 per mile to completely overlay a highway such as County Highway 21, which runs north of Beulah for about 10 miles from its intersection with State Highway 200 to State Highway 1806. That's chump change. Now, that estimate is at $250,000 per mile, according to Steve Mamer of Interstate Engineering. That leaves a 10-mile overlay project estimated to cost a cool $2.5 million.

Posted 2/25/09 (Wed) read more »