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Drainage Issues Occupy Palo Alto County Supervisors

By Staff | Feb 24, 2011

After a brush with the Spring thaw last week, it seemed ironic that drainage issues would occupy the Palo Alto County Supervisors during the weekly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 22. A bid letting for drainage district repairs was conducted, along with a public hearing on the completion of another drainage project. Additionally, the board accepted plans and set dates for bid lettings on two more drainage district projects during the session.

The board first accepted the plans and specifications for a repair and cleanout of the main open ditch of Drainage District 48 from Drainage Engineer Don Etler. In the specifications, the engineer’s estimate for a total project cost came in at $577,873. Work would begin on April 1, 2011, but due to Natural Resource and Conservation Service regulations regarding working in buffer strips during nesting seasons, no work could be done between May and August on the project, necessitating a completion date of October 2012.

“The nesting season restriction could result in higher bids from contractors,” Etler warned the board, “but there seems to be no way around it.”

The board approved the specifications and set 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 15 as the date for the opening of bids for the project.

The board then accepted a reclassification and benefits report for work done in Drainage District 61, Lateral J, near West Bend. Drainage Engineer Rick Hopper presented the report to the board, noting the project had a total assessment of $350,000.

“These were some major assessments,” Hopper explained, “But the land owners knew that going into the project.”

Hopper noted that the original engineer’s estimates for the project cost was $465,000, but that the bids came in significantly lower than expected. The board members then set April 5 at 10 a.m. as the time for the public hearing on the project.

Entering into a telephone conference call with the Kossuth County Board of Supervisors, a Completion Hearing was conducted for work done on joint District PAK 1 Lateral B Open Ditch near Fenton. Drainage Engineer Don Etler reported that the contractor, Reutzel Excavation of Burt, had satisfactorily completed work and that all retainage from the original contract be paid to the contractor. Etler then presented a spreadsheet detailing damages to croplands incurred during the repair work, and explained the methods at which the damages were determined. A total of 6.8 acres were located inside the open ditch right-of-way, and were not entitled to any damage compensation. An additional 25.9 acres outside the right-of-way sustained damages, either from the contractor or from flooding due to a heavy rain during the project.

“A total of 10 parcels reported damages,” Etler told the combined boards. “We met with the landowners and all are in agreement with the proposed damage awards.”

Total damages for actual crop loss, rent, and standing water, totaled $14,430,49. Damages for croplands that were not planted because of the pending work totaled $2,430.01 and damage for future crop loss, due to spoil dirt being placed on crop lands totaled $13,177.01, for a total of $30,037.51

“All the landowners are in agreement with these figures?” asked Kossuth Supervisor Don McGregor.

“They’re sitting here and all nodding their heads yes,” replied Palo Alto Board Chair Keith Wirtz.

The completion report and damages were approved on a unanimous vote of both boards of supervisors.

The drainage issues wrapped up with a bid opening for repair work to DD 175 for flooding damages sustained in 2010. The majority of repairs will be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Don Etler supervised the bid opening, with four bids being submitted for the work. The engineer’s estimate for the project totaled $257,666.55.

Bids were opened from L.A. Carlson Contracting of Merrill in the amount of $253,933.75; Reutzel Excavation of Burt in the amount of $273,366.00; Valley Contracting of Estherville in the amount of $235,654.05 and Nelson and Rock Contracting of Onawa in the amount of $323,691.50.

After checking the bids, the board awarded the contract to Valley Contracting of Estherville for its’ low bid of $235,654.05