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DD 48 Cleanout Proposal Presented To Supervisors

By Staff | Jun 10, 2010

Palo Alto County Drainage District 48 could face some major work, according to an engineer’s report filed with the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during its weekly meeting on June 8. The supervisors were also reminded of an upcoming drainage hearing this coming Friday, June 11, in the boardroom of the courthouse.

Drainage Engineer Don Etler presented the supervisors with his study on DD48, which is located between Mallard and West Bend, and proposals for repairs to the district.

“A petition filed in July of 2008 requested the cleanout of the upper mile of the ditch,” Etler noted in his report. “Investigation revealed that the ditch could not be fully repaired, or tile lines relieved, unless the repair was extended downstream.”

In his study of the district, Etler surveyed the first three and a half miles of the open ditch, which was the primary focus of the original petition. The survey showed the district, which was first established in 1911 and constructed in 1913, had repairs completed in 1918, 1929 and comprehensively in 1952, with no improvements made to the district facilities during that time.

According to Etler, there are three road culverts in the ditch, which add to the problems found in the ditch. “The uppermost culvert was placed in 1917, three feet above the ditch grade. The bottom was knocked out of the culvert, but when is not known,” Etler explained. “The next downstream culver was installed in 1927 and it is 1.5 feet above the design grade. These two culverts are old and function as restrictions to flow or promoters of more rapid sedimentation and they should be replaced. The next downstream culvert was installed in 1984 and is a half-foot high. This grade can be accommodated and the culvert left alone.”

 Etler also noted that right-of-way was never fully documented for the ditch when it was established. In the past, auditors have determined 33 feet for a width to determine easement areas, but the engineer recommended that the right-of-way be increased to the 100-foot width standard.

“This ditch has up to four feet of silt in it, and many parts of it are covered in trees and brush,” Etler said. “A repair is long overdue. I estimated $152,000 for tree and brush removal, and a total project cost of about $600,000.”

As part of his study, Etler also discovered 160 acres of lands adjacent to the current district should be part of the district, but have never been assessed. It was the engineer’s recommendation that the 160 acres be annexed in, and subsequently, a reclassification be made to determine a schedule of benefits for the lands in the district, as the last such reclassification was done in 1963.

“Those 160 acres have never been assessed in this district?” asked Supervisor Keith Wirtz.

“No,” Etller answered, noting that there are tile lines in the area that run to an adjoining district, but that the acres in question do drain towards DD48.

“It’s always been my feeling that if their water goes to a district, then the land owner should help pay for that district,” Wirtz said, as other supervisors nodded their heads in agreement.

Etler noted that the proposed annexation of the 160 acres into the district would carry a price tag of $4,000, which was figured into the overall project cost.

With little further discussion, Etler’s report was approved by the board, which set 1 p.m. on Tuesday, August 3, as the time for a landowner hearing on the proposed project.

 The hearing will be held at the Palo Alto County Election Center, located  on South Broadway in Emmetsburg.