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No Easy Answers

By Staff | Mar 8, 2012

An ongoing drainage issue along 25th Street on the south edge of Emmetsburg generated considerable discussion in an informal hearing on Feb. 28. The Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors visited with landowners in Drainage District 180 and the Lateral 30 line during their weekly meeting, and set Tuesday, April 3 for a formal hearing on the issue.

Drainage Engineer Don Etler and County Drainage Attorney Jim Hudson reviewed the issues concerning the tile, which serves the area adjacent to Grand and along 25th Street to the east. Ongoing issues with standing water in the area, which includes a portion of the Emmetsburg Industrial Park, and a perceived lack of drainage, have been studied at length by Etler’s firm, I&S-Kuehl and Payer.

“The tile system out there is 100 years old, with four-inch tile north of 25th Street and a six-inch tile south of the street, running to the open ditch to the east,” Kent Rode, an engineer with I&S-Kuehl & Payer stated. “Our studies show it is only operating at 1-3 percent of capacity and is severely deficient.”

Etler noted that his study had come up with six options for relief of the problem, and designs to address both a 100-year rain and a five-year rain event.

“A four-inch tile line is attempting to drain 24 acres of urban area,” noted Rode “There is just no way possible that people can say there were no drainage problems out there before Iowa Lakes built their new facility. There had to be problems there previously.”

But despite Rode’s statement, there was dissent from people attending the informal hearing. Roger Chism stated his belief that by placing crushed rock in their pole yard, Iowa Lakes Electric had changed the drainage of the area, causing the new problems.

“Urban drainage standards and agricultural drainage standards do not always peacefully co-exist,” observed Attorney Hudson.

A question was asked about an existing detention basin on the northeast corner of the Industrial Park property, and why the drainage problem couldn’t be addressed by that facility. Etler explained that the structure was designed to drain to railroad tracks owned by the Union Pacific, where there is a pipe that runs to capacity from two other detention basins, and to add more water would overload that system.

Etler explained that a choice for a possible solution should be decided on prior to a formal hearing. One option proposes an 18-inch outfall line to a detention pond on the south side of the Montag Manufacturing property, where water would gradually outflow to the farmlands to the southeast. Another primary option calls for a surface drain to outlet in the field south of 25th Street, which would handle a 100-year storm.

“I’ve been furnishing the power company a reservoir ever since they built there, me and Jim Coakley,” Roger Chism stated.

“My parents never had two feet of water in their basement before, either,” noted Cory Coakley.

“A four-inch tile would never empty that area,” Etler said.

“I think with all the water they put on us, a ditch would be a necessity,” Chism observed.

Board Chairman Keith Wirtz thought the tile line to the detention basin plan offered the best option to address all issues.

Board member Ed Noonan urged the group to move forward with one of the two options, with Supervisor Ron Graettinger agreeing.

While there were still issues to be addressed, the board set 10 a.m. on April 3 as the time and date for the formal hearing in the Supervisors’ Board Room.