Corps of Engineers concerned about the Snake Creek Embankment

Jun 20, 2018

Army Corps of Engineers Omaha Division chief or water quality and control Mike Nelson at a Bismarck public meeting on the Snake Creek embankment.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The US Army Corps of Engineers has some concerns about what might happen to the Snake Creek Embankment during times of severe drought.

That embankment separates Lake Sakakawea from Lake Audubon.

"During the drought of the mid-2000s, when Lake Sakakawea got really low, we noticed when there's a big difference between Lake Audubon and Lake Sakakawea, some of the foundation pressures get to be really high," said Corps Omaha Division director of water quality and control Mike Nelson. "There's a concern that, if left unchecked, those could eventually lead to dam safety problems and, ultimately, an embankment failure."

The embankment carries US 83, and it’s the major route between Bismarck and Minot. It also carries railroad tracks and high voltage power lines.

"We want to put into place a restriction on the difference between the two reservoirs," Nelson said. "That would insure failure doesn't happen."

Nelson said the restrictions would only be put in place during years of extreme drought.

The Corps held a public meeting about it in Bismarck Tuesday evening. Another meeting is scheduled Wednesday in Garrison.