Sump pump water should go in street

The Jamestown city engineer's office is reminding people that sump pump water should be directed to the stormwater system rather than the sanitary sewer.

Officials are reporting a high volume of water flowing through the sanitary sewer system at this time. Residents in the James River Valley and other lower elevations are also advised to plug basement floor drains to prevent sewage backup from entering the home.

A Jamestown ordinance prohibits directing rain, surface or groundwater into the sanitary sewer system.

Instead, people are asked to direct hoses from sump pumps or drain tile systems to the curb where the water will flow to the stormwater system.

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Combined releases from Pipestem and Jamestown dams may exceed the 2,400 cubic feet per second that the city of Jamestown and its residents prepared for with sandbags last week.

Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich told a fall flooding community engagement meeting called by Gov. Doug Burgum and North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring that new calculations were being made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The community engagement meeting at the Jamestown Civic Center drew about 400 people from Stutsman and surrounding counties Monday afternoon.

"I have been advised that 2,400 cfs will not be sufficient to lower the reservoir levels by freeze up," Heinrich said. "No decision has been made yet for the next (release) level."

Record combined releases from the two dams came in the spring of 2009 at 3,200 cfs, according to Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager and 911 coordinator.

Heinrich said he was proud of the community and the volunteers who placed the sandbags necessary to protect the community at 2,400 cfs releases but the Corps of Engineers would be requested to provide direct assistance if additional dikes are necessary to protect property at the higher release levels.

Bergquist said it was critical to lower the levels of the Jamestown and Pipestem reservoirs yet this fall.

"... we could be facing something catastrophic next spring," he said.

Burgum said North Dakota was facing a "boatload of challenges" in the wet weather and saturated soil this fall with many of those problems related to agriculture.

"There are billions of dollars of unharvested crops," he said. "... we don't know if we'll have roads to haul it (if it can be harvested)."

Goehring estimated $2 billion worth of soybeans alone still remain in North Dakota and western Minnesota fields.

The community engagement meeting included presentations from Heinrich, Bergquist, Goehring and Burgum as well as brief comments from Mark Klose, chairman of the Stutsman County Commission, and comments from the public.

About a dozen members of the public spoke about the need to streamline the process of adjusting and settling crop insurance payments, changing wetlands policy and the potential of payments from the Wildfire and Hurricanes Indemnity Program. The WHIP program requires a Presidential Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster Declaration from the secretary of agriculture.

They also heard from ranchers who said wet road and field conditions made it impossible to move hay from the field or bring livestock from summer pastures. In many cases, the quality of hay has deteriorated because of the moisture and corn silage, another feed for livestock, hasn't been cut because of wet field conditions.

A farmer from the Jud area said she did not want "death" payments but a program that would make feed available to producers now.

Goehring told those gathered that crop insurance can't determine loss or make payments until after the harvest date. Payments from the WHIP program would also require proof of loss such as an adjustment or a harvest with less than anticipated yield. Other solutions such as emergency low-interest operating loans from the Bank of North Dakota would require legislative action, he said.

Burgum said the physical problems caused by excessive water are causing stress in the agricultural industry.

"We have a ton of stress," he said "Financial stress, community stress. It is time for neighbor taking care of neighbor."

Alicia Harstad, Stutsman County Extension agent for natural resources and agriculture, said Extension offers mental health resources although not therapy.

"We're having a lot of hard conversations especially with ranchers," she said. "A lot are worried about feed."

Burgum said he had faith North Dakota's agricultural industry would survive the problems.

"North Dakota is a special place," he said. "If there is a way to get this crop off, North Dakota farmers will do it and do it safely. We have the resources but it starts with neighbors helping neighbors."