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Flood stages to be altered for gauge at Pipestem Creek

A flood warning that pops up for Stutsman County almost every year might not be showing up anymore next year, if the Stutsman County Commission and the Stutsman County emergency manager get their way.

The warning comes from a single flood gauge on Pipestem Creek in the Pingree area, which currently has its minor flood stage set at 9 feet and its major flood stage set at 13 feet.

"I really think we need to adjust the flood stages on this gauge, because it's caused us more trouble than it's (caused) good," said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager and 911 coordinator.

He said that with the low level required for a flood, the creek floods easily, and then people see media reports of a flood and believe it refers to Jamestown or other parts of Stutsman County -- when it really only refers to the gauge on Pipestem Creek.

"... there is virtually nothing in that location," Bergquist said.

The National Weather Service sets the flood stages, and would have to go through a period of public comment before it made any changes. That way, Bergquist said, area landowners will be able to give input if they wish. The process usually takes three to five months.

The NWS has suggested adjusting the minor stage up to 10 feet and the major up to 14 feet.

In a letter the commission agreed to send Tuesday, Stutsman County requested putting the stages at 11 feet for a minor flood and 15 feet for a major flood, with other stages increasing 2 feet from the current settings as well.

"We reviewed the historical crest information associated with this gage and determined that Stutsman County has never experienced any damages as a result of any of the historical crests, including the record crest experienced in 2009," the letter states. "... we believe these upward changes would better reflect the very rural location of this gage and the potential dangers to the public associated with high water flows."

The commission unanimously agreed on the changes.

"So this adjustment would probably alleviate the anxiety of the public? Sounds like a no-brainer to me," said Commissioner Dale Marks.

In other news Tuesday, the commission:

* learned from Bergquist that technical issues arose during the integration of the Stutsman County-Richland County 911 system with Barnes County, which was supposed to be complete Aug. 14. A new activation date has not yet been set.

* agreed to bolster the roof on a radio tower building to protect it from falling ice, with funding coming from the 911 fund.

* learned that the county recently terminated a dispatcher for allegedly giving out information regarding an ongoing police investigation, jeopardizing the investigation.

* accepted $31,137 in grant funds for Stutsman County Emergency Management.

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be raeched at 701-952-8453 or by email at