Living with Water: Your thoughts and experiences wanted.

It was almost hard to believe. Last month while we visited my husband’s parents in Iowa, we ran into an old neighbor of theirs who has since moved to Texas. He and his wife moved there to be closer to her parents and start farming down there. What they have found is incredible hardship. As you’ve no doubt seen on the news, Texas is suffering it’s worst dry spell since the 1950’s.

It was hard for us to imagine as we are coming off a third year in a row of fighting back the Red River from our Minnesota home. We’ve also watched as friends and relatives battle heartbreaking flooding in Minot, North Dakota.

The truth is: the water is in charge. Whether you live in Texas or North Dakota. It’s up to us to live with it. That’s why I’m excited to tell you about a new  project being undertaken by Forum Communications Company.

We’ve launched a company-wide reporting project designed to build understanding about water and its impact on our lives across the region, including ways that our uses of water impact other regions, and how their uses impact us.

Our reporters, photographers and editors will be sharing their stories in print, online, and over the air, but the first part involves you!

As part of the first phase of the project we’ve created an interactive website at, where you can participate in the project and share with our reporting staff your thoughts, feelings and experiences with water.

We’ll post our work as it progresses, but you are the most important part of this site. Please post your stories, questions, ideas and opinions. We’re also interested in documents pertaining to water. We’d like to hear family stories about drought and other issues arising from lack of water.  And we hope you’ll share your experiences of flooding. Finally, it would be fantastic if you’d share your thoughts about living by a lake, canoeing a prairie stream or getting soaked in a sudden rainstorm – anything that involves Living with Water. Please visit


We know you have stories to tell. We’ve heard you tell them over the years. We’ve interviewed you, we’ve read your letters and we’ve taken your pictures. Now, we’re asking you to do it again. Participate. Share your stories for future generations to understand what it was like for us to live with water.

2 thoughts on “Living with Water: Your thoughts and experiences wanted.

  1. I have lived in ND since the dry years of the ’30s. During the 1997 flood of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks my home and business were heavily damaged so I began attending “flood” meetings and acquired a considerable file of information. Following is a very brief history of Red River Basin water/flood issues –

    There is anecdotal evidence of greater floods earlier than the 1826 – 50.5, and when more flooding occurred a few years after the flood of 1897, there was controversy and legal action between ND and MN. But – then it became evident that flooding was not the only issue with water. The Red River never rose above flood stage for 22 years straight during the drought of the 1930s. This prompted ND, MN, and SD to form a Tri-State Waters Commission to address the shortage of water. The TSWC then developed plans for the four major reservoirs for both flood control and supply, but projected to be adequate only to 1965. In 1961 ND and MN began meeting, with the initial intent of reactivating the TSWC. Their final planning produced the Souris-Red-Rainy River Basin Commission which included a much larger area. The SRRRBC developed a comprehensive 8 volume study with viable projects projected to address all water related issues to the year 2020. The SRRRBC proposed some projects that became controversial and along with several other “commissions” was terminated in 1981 by executive order, leaving authorized projects abandoned. This has left the region vulnerable to flooding, as was proven especially in 1997, and now continues annually.

    It is pretty well agreed that the era of “big dams” is over, but the small watershed programs available through the USDA/NRCS and promoted by the National Watershed Coalition (NWC) have not yet been utilized extensively in this area. (Kansas has 1300, Oklahoma 2105 and Texas has almost as many). These states have very favorable reports on how these smaller systems have limited flooding.

    In the Red River Basin some good retention projects have already been completed recently, (Maple River, North Ottawa in the Bois de Sioux watershed, and some near Crookston), but The International Coalition (TIC) had identified over 400 potential sites for retention capable of lowering Red River flood crests by several feet.

    It is easy to understand the desire and need for communities like F/M to implement local protection.
    However, extensive past studies, by qualified entities, concurred on the fact that – “effective control of flooding on the main stem of the Red River must begin in the tributaries”

    Roland Young
    5950 East Lake Drive
    Grand Forks, ND 58201

    Cel – 701 330-5985

  2. I remember back to my days as a geological engineering student at South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City, SD when Professor Perry Rahn made it very clear to the Engineering Geology class that encroachment on the floodplain conflicted with sound science and fiscal responsibility. Dr Rahn indicated that the flood insurance program and FEMA were going to be increasingly shelling out more money than they would ever collect from token flood insurance premiums. Our appreciation for the floodplain was greatly enhanced by studying the results of the June 1972 Rapid City flood which took 239 souls and is currently the worst-case example of what can happen in our region. Many folks in Rapid City had the belief that Pactola Lake and Canyon Lake would protect them but 8+ inches of rain fell in the watershed between Rapid City and Pactola and washed out Canyon Lake as it roared down Rapid Creek. I have performed flood related work in ND, SD, and MN and have extensive knowledge of water issues in our region especially Waubay/Bitter Lakes in SD, Devils/Stump Lakes in ND and the Red River Watershed (6,800 sq mi) @ Fargo. I would love to contribute to your site.

Comments are closed.