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Petition To Tackle Drainage Issue

By Staff | Sep 27, 2012

A long running drainage issue on the south edge of Emmetsburg is headed towards resolution following the filing of a drainage petition Tuesday. An informal hearing of parties involved in Drainage District 180 Lateral 30 during the weekly meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors brought about a plan to end a long-standing problem in the area next to the Emmetsburg Industrial Park.

A petition for relief was originally filed in 2011 for drainage relief for landowners who suffered flooded basements and poor drainage of property west of the location of Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative’s Emmetsburg service facility in the Industrial Park.

A report by Drainage Engineer Don Etler proposed a surface drain plan for the area, taking runoff to the south and east across farmland east of Montag Manufacturing. Another option suggested the possibility of constructing a berm on the west edge of the property to hold water from running west and installing a tile line to run northeasterly across the Industrial Park to a detention basin in the northeast corner of the property, but that option was not favored by the engineer, due to concerns over 100-year storm capacity.

On Tuesday, nine landowners from the area gathered to give the county supervisors input on how to solve the problem.

“Our job is to fix the drainage, but we would like your input,” explained Supervisor Chair Keith Wirtz.

With that, discussion began on what plan would best solve the problem, it was noted that Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative supported the surface drain option and also would support the placement of a private tile line.

Landowner Roger Chism pointed out that he felt Iowa Lakes Electric needed to tile its property to take the water away. “Tile it to the county tile and get the water off the ground, use the existing tile,” Chism said. “I don’t believe that tile is overloaded.”

It was pointed out that the west side of the Industrial Park had never been addressed for drainage, and that should have happened before any lots were sold.

“Your drainage attorney said that the power company did nothing wrong down there,”?Emmetsburg City Administrator John Bird said. “Emmetsburg Community Development Committee put in storm water drainage for a great majority of the park, to the east, to capture what they could.”

Supervisor Ron Graettinger pointed out that drainage to the west should have been addressed by ECDC as well.

“We know the problems, we need solutions,”?Board member Ed Noonan said, trying to keep the discussion on track.

Bird stated that the city supported either option. “We will do whatever we can to assist this.”

Kris Ausborn, representing ECDC, noted that the group had agreed in discussion would put in the earthen berm and the tile to the detention basin. Ausborn also then stated that as a trustee of the Mahaney Trust, owner of some of the farmland that would be drained onto through the preferred option, he would be opposed to that option due to loss of farmland from production.

“Iowa Lakes Electric is not in favor of the berm from a liability standpoint, and we will take no role of any type in the berm,”?stated Mark Walsh, representing ILEC.

“So if ECDC?tiles this, then none of us would be involved?” asked Jim Coakley, one of the original petitioners.

“Yes,”?was Keith Wirtz’ answer.

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz pointed out that if the private tile and berm were installed, the berm would act as a boundary, and the Coakley’s and Ron Wirtz, two petitioners, would not be able to drain their properties, which were often flooded out.

“If there is no berm, then everyone could put their water in this tile line, but then they would all pay a share.”

Fantz explained that if a petition for a new drainage district were filed, the tile could be installed as a private tile, and then turned over to the county. “With a private agreement, this could move forward fairly quickly.”

“I won’t do it privately,”?Chism stated emphatically. “I’ve had enough dealings with the City of Emmetsburg. I won’t do it.”

A preliminary cost for the private tile earlier this summer of $23,000 was estimated to have risen over the summer months.

“Why doesn’t ECDC just pay for it?” Supervisor Jerry Hofstad asked.

“We have $20,000,”?Ausborn answered.

“Let the city pay the rest,”?Hofstad replied. “The electric company bought that property in good faith.”

The discussion continued, with Chism again refusing to go along with a private tile solution.

But, a majority of the landowners agreed with the petition option and signed a petition in the board room, requesting the establishment of a new drainage district to allow for the construction of the private tile line.

With the petition signed, the process will now begin to establish the new drainage district.