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Supervisors Briefed On Lake Plan

By Staff | Jun 30, 2011

Palo Alto County Supervisors learned about plans for a project involving Virgin Lake near Ruthven during their June 28 meeting. The board also discussed a drainage issue during the weekly session Tuesday at the Palo Alto County Courthouse.

Doug Janke, a Wildlife Biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, visited with the board in regards to a plan to restore Virgin Lake, which lies south of Ruthven. Janke explained plans for the restoration project with the board via a telephone conference call.

“The DNR plans to initiate a shallow lake restoration project on Virgin Lake, starting late this Fall,” Janke explained. “We will dig a channel into the lake to drain it, and at the same time, will replace the existing concrete weir structure on the north end of the lake with a stop-log structure to allow us to better manage the lake.”

As part of the project, Janke noted that the DNR plans to deepen and widen a drainage ditch running from the north end of the lake to within 600 feet of 370 Avenue, where Drainage Ditch 60 has a large tile intake.

“By daylighting this ditch, we will gain the ability to take the lake level down six to six and a half feet,” Janke noted. “We will also be replacing a pair of field approach culverts and get them set to grade.”

“How is this going to impact Drainage Ditch 60?” questioned Supervisor Ed Noonan. “We’re looking into some tile issues right there at this time.”

“Our project has been designed by McClure Engineering of Fort Dodge, who have worked with us on some other shallow lake restoration projects,” Janke answered. “They have experience with drainage and I’m sure they’ve taken that into account.”

“Have you held any public hearings or meetings on this project?” Noonan asked.

“We’ve talked with some landowners in the scope of the project and they are supportive of the plan,” Janke replied.

“Have you talked to Ray Grandstaff?” Noonan asked. “His land would be affected because the tile problem we have is a line that is old and failing through his property.”

Janke admitted he had not spoken with Grandstaff, but would do so. “We would anticipate having an open house meeting sometime in July to explain the project and take questions from the public.”

According to Janke, the timeframe for the project would be to begin work over the winter, draining the lake and keeping it drained for a year and a half.

In other business, the board met with Don Etler and Kent Rode of Kuehl and Payer regarding plans for work on Drainage District 132, which runs alongside U.S. Highway 18 west of the Des Moines River. In 2009, the Iowa Department of Transportation removed trees and placed riprap along the south bank of the ditch. However, amounts of the riprap fell into the bottom of the ditch and reduced the width of the ditch. The DOT recognized the problem after being questioned by the Supervisors, acting as Trustees of the Drainage District. The DOT agreed to pay for corrective work to restore the ditch bottom’s width.

Tuesday, Etler and Rode presented the engineer’s plan for the work, which would entail the acquisition of a small bit of right-of-way on the north side of the ditch and straightening the ditch from the north side, while leaving the rip-rapped south bank untouched.

“The DOT has agreed to stand the entire project costs,” Kent Rode told the board, “So there is no need to hold a public hearing on this project. We will need to speak to the property owners to discuss compensation for crop loss acres.”

According to Rode, the land involved in the right-of-way is currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, and can be withdrawn from the program without penalty to the landowner, if it is condemned by the DD.

“The whole purpose of this project is essentially to move the ditch to the north to create a 10-foot bottom in the ditch.” Rode explained. “I think this is a reasonable approach to addressing the issue. It would be prudent for us to move forward at this time.”

A suggestion was offered that language should be added to the agreement holding the DOT responsible if any damage is done to the north side of the ditch, such as cutouts, from the meandering south bank of the ditch.

“That’s not a bad idea,” Etler noted.

The engineer’s estimate for the project totals $179,000.

On a unanimous vote, the supervisors directed Rode to proceed with final plans and specifications for bid letting on the project.