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Repair Work Discussed For Drainage District

By Staff | Feb 1, 2011

A proposal to repair damages from flooding to the main open ditch of Drainage District 175 was given tentative approval by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors following a public hearing Tuesday, Jan. 25.

In an informal hearing with landowners from DD175, Gary Atherton of Kuehl and Payer outlined the scope of repair work to the main open ditch, which sustained damages during heavy rains and flooding in 2010. As a result of that damage, the district qualifies for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding for 75 percent of the total cost of repairs. The state of Iowa would pay for an additional 10 percent, leaving 15 percent of the total costs to be borne by landowners in the district.

DD 175 is comprised of approximately 6,000 acres that are being assessed for drainage. The district was originally constructed in 1955 and eight miles of the ditch was cleaned in 1974 at a cost of $80,000, according to records.

According to Atherton, completing any repairs on the ditch will be limited by regulations of the Department of Natural Resources, regarding buffer strips. “Between May 15 and August 1, the DNR forbids the use of buffer strips for any purpose,” Atherton explained. “You can’t drive on them, anything. The contractor would hopefully cut down the trees identified in our plan by May 15, and then remove them after August 1. As part of this project, the drainage district would also pay landowners for damages to the buffer strips that are caused by the repair work.”

Atherton noted that the timeline for the project would start with the approval of specifications for the project and the letting of a bid. That bid letting was set for Feb. 22 at 11 a.m. in the boardroom of the courthouse. Once the bid is let, work could begin until the DNR time frame of May 15 to Aug. 1, at which time work would stop and not resume till Aug. 16.

The engineers’ estimate of the total project cost for removal of numerous trees in the ditch, as well as repair to damage ditch banks and the addition of rip-rap to stabilize the ditch banks and related work amounted to $252,586.55.

“If the government is paying for most of the work to be done and I owned land out there, I’d sure be in favor of doing the work,” commented Supervisor Ed Noonan.

After some brief discussion, Supervisor Ron Graettinger moved to approve the project specifications and set Feb. 22 at 11 a.m. as the time for a bid opening on the project. The motion was approved on a unanimous vote with Supervisor Leo Goeders absent and not voting.