Yeah, getting rid of water is fairly easy. Its trying to level it out that I have trouble with. Theres an inlet near my house that looks more like white water rapids than a section of ocean. Haven't been able to figure out how to level it.
Let us know how things go with the portal, Robert. The Nether is an interesting place to say the least.
And if you guys are willing the make your servers public, I'd love to visit. Single player is fun, but it gets a bit lonely sometimes, knowing you're the only person in the world.