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Water Commission okays Missouri River dredging projects

The state Water Commission has approved state money for two dredging projects on the Missouri River in the Bismarck-Mandan area.

The flood of 2011 changed the river, depositing a lot of silt and creating new sandbars. Water Commission staffer Bruce Engelhardt says one of the projects will be the dredging of the area around the Bismarck storm sewer outfall.

"It's actually blocked," said Engelhardt. "Storm water can't get into the river. It has to back up through side channels. If we got a big enough rain event, there wouldn't be the capacity to get that water into the river."

Engelhardt says the other project will be dredging at the confluence of the Missouri and Heart Rivers, south of Mandan.

"The confluence has essentially moved downstream between a quarter and a half-mile," Engelhardt said. "Instead of coming straight out into the Missouri, it has to make almost a 90-degree turn. Ice flows have a hard time making 90-degree turns."

Engelhardt says that means ice jams could back up water into Mandan.

The state will pay 75 percent of the dredging costs, and local governments will have to come up with 25 percent. The price tag for the Heart River project is $300-thousand, and the cost for the storm sewer project is around $200-thousand. Engelhardt says the Water Commission is hoping to do those projects this fall.

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