This story was originally published by KFYR-TV on Sep. 1, 2015
By Max Grossfeld
One of the risks of living near any body of water is that when it floods, property can be affected.
That nightmare happened to the residents of Lake Tschida when the lake spilled over its banks in 2009.
Things could, however, be getting a lot worse.
“We have money invested. It’s our way of life, it’s our cottage, it’s our place to get away,” said Leo Vetter, Heart Butte Association president.
But that way of life may be going away for the trailer owners around the lake.
In 2009, 16 trailers flooded, which is what lead to the Bureau of Reclamation original ruling that all 114 trailers around the lake had to be carried away.
The deadline was pushed back until 2021, but now residents, along with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., have invited the Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López to the lake, to try and reach a compromise which would allow the trailers to stay.
“Our primary motivator is dam safety. Water quality is another issue for us. We have to make sure that we do our job well in that regard,” López said.
The residents suggested possibly requiring reinforcements to keep the trailers in place in case of a flood.
“The solutions that we’ve put forward address dam safety and so that’s where we’re saying to the bureau; we get that you’re concerned about that issue, dam safety, but we are fully addressing it, and we’re open to any other ideas you have that enable these people to stay here,” Hoeven said.
López will now take the proposal under consideration. He says there’s no timetable as of yet for making a decision.
If the Bureau of Reclamation chooses to do nothing, trailer owners would have to remove their homes by 2021. They would keep their permits, however, and would be allowed to use another type of recreational vehicle, something many residents say they wouldn’t be able to afford.
(Comm. Director note: Commissioner López, an appointee of President Obama, elected to decline the trailer owners’ requests. The trailer owners then successfully worked with Senator John Hoeven and his staff to pass legislation to remedy the situation and give the right to remain at Lake Tschida back to the trailer cabin owners.)