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Supervisors Hold Hearing on DD 29

By Staff | Feb 14, 2012

Improvements to the upper and lower main tile of Drainage District 29 was the topic of discussion during the Feb. 7, meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors. The latest meeting was a continuance of a previous hearing held for the lower main. Several landowners impacted by the drainage district were in attendance.

Richard Hopper, engineer with Jacobson-Westergard & Associates, referred to the engineer’s report for the history of the tile. He reminded those present that remonstrance had not been met on the lower main, and that that decision would fall on the Board of Supervisors.

According to the report, the improvements now being proposed involves a new tile parallel to the existing main tile starting at the outlet in the open ditch near the east quarter corner of Section 30 in West Bend Township. The improvements would extend generally in a northwesterly direction approximately 6,760 feet to the junction of the main tile with branches 6, 7, and 8.

Hopper noted that the tile sizes of the existing system range from the largest of 30-inches to the smallest of 6-inches.

“The tile in the area of the proposed improvements is 30-inches,” Hopper said. “The tile is extremely undersized. Extensive areas lose 100-percent of their crop on a regular basis. Most of the system is over 100 years old and is in need of improvement.”

He added that the drainage coefficient of the existing system is 1/8 inch or less.

Among the cited improvements are three options:

Option A: A new parallel tile with a one-inch drainage coefficient. This would include a large pipe (60-inches and 54-inches) and would be fairly expensive with a total cost of $965,300.

Option B: A new parallel tile with a 1/2-inch drainage coefficient. The pipe would be 48-inches and 42-inches. This option is more reasonable with a total cost of $689,580.

Option C: A system having a -inch drainage coefficient including the existing tile capacity. The pipe would include 42-inches and 36-inches. This option would be the most affordable with a total cost of $564,370.

Since the improvements being proposed are offset from the existing improvements, additional right-of-way would be required, which would include permanent right-of-way and temporary construction right-of-way.

Discussion focused on the lateral tile.

“It sounds like people have petitioned to look at Lateral 10, too, and we can do that rather quickly,” said Hopper.

“When the commission is appointed–if they are–would a landowner have the right to say ‘my land is in this program already’, so can he deal with the commission then?” asked Supervisor Keith Wirtz.

“We’d have to work with NRCS and be sure that’s going to fit,” Hopper answered. “I think they could work within that system if they wanted to maintain that.”

Hopper continued, “Now, what the question is: In the 20 years, what if he decides that he wants to improve it then? I’m not sure how you handle that. It would mean another reclassification, at least for that lateral. You can do it a lateral at a time at that point.”

Someone noted that that is what the law is for now.

“That’s a good point. The EPA has new regulations that they’ve put out for public comment now talking about that they will control every acre of this and what you can and cannot do,” Hopper agreed.

Supervisor Keith Wirtz noted that Hopper had a good point.

“The rules are getting worse and worse,” said Wirtz. “For us sitting here, do the people want to open up the laterals or do you want to settle what we’re going to do with the main?”

Wirtz reminded everyone that the lower main did not meet remonstrance.

Carmen Moser, Palo Alto County Auditor, interjected that the problem is that there is no separate classification for the upper and lower main.

“So, based on the current classification, remonstrance has not been met on the total district,” said Hopper.

Supervisor Ron Graettinger noted that if the laterals were not included, a larger main was not needed.

One landowner rebutted, “If we don’t have laterals, we don’t need a main.”

“If it were me, I’d want to see a reclassification,” said Wirtz. “Everyone is going to want to know what it’s going to cost.”

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz noted that in a couple weeks, the county would be letting bids for a road project in that area.

“We don’t want to have a new concrete road and then cut that road and forever have a bump there,” said Fantz.

Hopper stated that it would take a minimum of four weeks to complete a reclassification and a study on the laterals in question.

“Does everyone understand that when he reclassifies, there’s going to be one schedule for the main tile and each lateral will have another schedule?” asked Moser. “When you get a bill, it will all be separated out. It won’t be lumped together. Only the people who drain into a lateral will pay for that lateral.”

“We need to get the main finished and then deal with the laterals,” surmised Wirtz.

Wirtz called a vote and the Supervisors approved to continue on with the proposed improvements to the tile with the one-inch coefficient. Hopper will complete a reclassification in the coming weeks, and then deal with the laterals.