Our goal is to see the Souris River in Minot become a valuable natural resource for our community. The blighted now-dead loops throughout town are an eyesore and an embarrassment, but hidden beneath the muck and duckweed are Minot’s last remaining segments of natural river.
But there is a plan that would lead to a renaissance on the river. Here’s what it involves.
Redesign Entrance and Exit Points to the Dead Loops
A big part of what’s contributing to the dead loop problem is the existing gate structures. Water flows in and out through underground and often underwater culverts that can be closed during times of high river flows. But culverts are not recreation friendly. And they act as surface skimmers that trap the summer duckweed (and anything else that floats) and create sediment deposits at the exit points.
With a subtle redesign, the gate structures would allow the system to more closely mimic natural current. And as a bonus, they’d provide recreational access for small boats, canoes, and kayaks to the original sections of river channel.
Dredge the Historic River Channels
Decades of sediment deposits are currently trapped in our original channels. In order to fully restore natural current, we need to get that muck out of there. It will be a dirty job, but it needs to be done. But as a bonus, can you imagine what lost treasures from Minot’s past we might unearth?
Reconfigure the Cofferdams
Minot’s existing cofferdams (also known as weir structures) are a critical part of the entire system; they’re designed to force water into the historic river channels. Unfortunately, they’re also extremely dangerous. When water falls over the dams, it creates recirculating currents that make swimming, boating, and tubing on the river a dangerous choice. But if we reconfigure their design, they can still serve the purpose of forcing water into the natural river sections and we can eliminate the safety risk. We may even be able to create a fun recreational feature too!
Manage the System as it was Intended
Whatever design structures we have, the system will only work as well as we manage it. Minot’s now-dead loops were originally meant to hold current, but over the years we became lax in our operational practices. It’s gotten to the point where the now-dead loops serve as little more than storm water retention ponds. Seeing this plan through to success will require a new directive and a commitment to operate the system as intended.