Heavy rain stalls lake drainage, farmers’ workThe heavy rain Tuesday has stalled the decline in the levels of the Jamestown and Pipestem dams, according to Bob Martin, Pipestem Dam manager. “Prior to the rain the lakes were going down about 1 inch per day,” he said. “With the rain everything is holding steady.”
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The heavy rain Tuesday has stalled the decline in the levels of the Jamestown and Pipestem dams, according to Bob Martin, Pipestem Dam manager.
“Prior to the rain the lakes were going down about 1 inch per day,” he said. “With the rain everything is holding steady.”
Officially the National Weather Service reported 1.72 inches of rain in Jamestown. Local unofficial reports were of more than 2 inches in some areas.
Pipestem Dam releases are at 600 cubic feet per second while releases from Jamestown Dam were at 1,100 cfs as of Wednesday. The Jamestown Dam releases were reduced by 100 cfs during the rain Tuesday to allow for local runoff. The releases could be increased to a combined 1,800 cfs if conditions improve.
Martin said soil saturation throughout the upper James and Pipestem drainage has increased the amount of runoff entering the streams. The water will take a couple of days to reach the dams.
“We expect that for the next several days the lakes will hold steady,” he said.
The rains are also having an effect on agriculture in the area.
“The vast majority are done planting what they can get to,” said Lance Brower, Stutsman County Extension agent. “There is prevented planting that they won’t be getting to. They’re pretty much done for the season.”
Brower said grounds that were too wet at the initial planting will continue to stay too wet after the rains. He also speculated the rain could have a negative effect on spring crops.
“This is not going to help the planted crops,” Brower said. “Too much moisture can wash away nutrients, and plants need air at the roots. If it’s too wet it can drown out crops.”
That concern is also felt in Kidder County, where the rain was more intense.
“We got dumped on,” said Doug Kramlich, a farmer who lives 2 miles south of Tappen. “Two inches where I live but 3 to 3 1/2 inches in Tappen.”
Kramlich characterized the conditions as a lot of standing water with all the ditches and culverts running full.
“We have sandy soil here,” he said. “So being too wet is not usually a big problem here but by 10 p.m. everybody’s sump pumps were running.”
Kramlich anticipates some crop loss in low-lying spots where standing water may drown out the crops.
Farmers are also becoming concerned with the upcoming haying season.
“The hay crop looks good,” Brower said. “But it has to dry enough to get it cut. The alfalfa is a little behind due to the lack of heat units.”
In the Tappen area farmers are already starting to cut irrigated alfalfa.
“A few had started cutting hay,” Kramlich said. “But it would be stupid to cut hay with the weather forecasts the way they are.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at email@example.com