Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
January 9th, 2014
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Editorial Team, Richland Wilkin JPA
How much water does it take to drown a rat? I suppose it depends on whether the rat can swim, but let’s pretend it can’t. Is the rat any more dead if it’s under an inch of water or three feet of water?
Clearly the answer is no.
If you live in New York City, when you talk about rats, you talk about sewers. There seems to be a connection between rats and sewers when it comes to the proposed Red River Diversion.
When you live in the country, your sewer is usually a septic system. There are no long pipes like in New York City that carry the slippery sludge to a treatment facility. Instead, there are a couple of tanks underground where the natural overflow runs into underground pipes full of holes that allows the liquid to absorb into the soil. It takes as little as 10-feet of soil depth to purify what was sewage into clean water.
So let’s get back to the rats. The U.S. Army Corps is telling us they don’t consider damage occurs from their staging area if the water depth is less than a foot. They draw a cute little red box around the area that has more than a foot of impact. But what if you’re a rural homeowner outside the red box with six inches of water for a week or two, and you have a septic system? The rat drowns. Or, at least your sewer does. The sewer only works if the water coming out of your sink and toilet can soak into the ground. If you have even an inch of water covering the sewer’s drain field, it’s not going to work. If you have to run to an outhouse instead of the bathroom, you’ve been damaged, especially if you have to run through six inches of water to get to an outhouse in the middle of the night. Imagine convincing a prospective homebuyer that it’s not such a big deal, because it may last only a couple weeks and happen once every five or 10 years.
How about if your house has a 12-foot ring dike around it with eight feet of water on the outside? That will be the case for the folks in Bakke and Hickson. About two-thirds of those homes have septic systems. Ground saturation will be a certainty when Fargo closes the dam gates to protect their fair city. It’s a safe bet that the sewer rats will be drowning in Bakke.
A really exciting and unhealthful result of saturated sewer drain fields is that the sewage comes to the surface. It’s called gray water and it’s likely to bubble up in the backyards of those people located inside the ring dike when a dam is in operation. The grand solution of a ring dike for the people of Hickson and Bakke doesn’t seem so grand. Even in North Dakota, it seems that water, sewers and rats all go together.