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Boyer Lake outlet put on fast track

The rising water level in Boyer Lake, east of Lake Park, is getting close to the edges of Highway 10. The stretch of road was raised several years ago because of high water. Dave Wallis / The Forum

With sandbags protecting Highway 10 from the lapping waters of Boyer Lake, the Buffalo-Red River Watershed is moving fast to build an outlet.

The lake, which has been rising for years, is located about two miles east of Lake Park. Sunnyside Nursing Home sits on its shores.

Using "fast track" authority granted to watershed districts, a bid opening will be held Monday and if the low bid is reasonably close to the engineer's estimate, construction will likely begin this week.

The bid stipulates that "there needs to be water running by June 15," said Bruce Albright, administrator of the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District.

The contractor will have until Aug. 1 to finish the project, but water needs to be moving out of Boyer Lake by next month, he said.

An appraisal found several million dollars in benefits from the project, "a strong indicator that it (meets cost-benefit scrutiny and) should be done," Albright said.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation spent nearly $1 million to raise Highway 10 in 2003 because it was threatened by the rising Boyer Lake.

The outlet project is projected to cost $288,000.

MnDOT will pay about $160,000 of the project cost. The watershed district will pick up about $70,000 from its general fund, and benefited property owners will pick up about $40,000. That includes townships and benefiting road authorities, including Becker County.

About 45 people attended a meeting Monday in Lake Park and agreed the watershed district should take action, Albright said.

Once the outlet is operating, the water level will be reduced three or four feet. Watershed engineers estimate the lake level will recede about 10 inches a month.

"I keep hearing from people that we're going to drain Boyer Lake," Albright said. "We're not going to drain Boyer Lake. It's to control the water level. All outlet projects have a gate, and if there's flooding downstream, we'll shut the gate."

The project will provide an outlet not only for Boyer (and Little Boyer) Lake, but for nearby LaBelle Lake as well.

The lakes, which currently have no outlet, would then drain into Becker County Ditch 9, and eventually into the Buffalo River.

The new outlet will help to mitigate high water and erosion problems, on both lakes as well as on adjacent roads within the watershed -- which includes Highway 10.