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Compromise Reached For Drainage Issue

By Staff | Oct 18, 2012

A solution to a long-standing drainage problem on the south east edge of Emmetsburg was approved by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during a hearing Tuesday, Oct. 16. With several landowners and representatives on hand along with the county’s drainage attorney and drainage engineers, the hearing lasted well over an hour.

Problems with drainage to the southwest of the Emmetsburg Industrial Park on 380 Street have been ongoing for residents west of Grand Avenue, who petitioned the board as trustees of Drainage District 180 Lateral 30.

Engineers Kent Rode and Don Etler of the I&S Group has studied the area and issued an initial proposal that entailed construction of a surface drain, which would drain approximately 40 acres in the area, at a projected cost of $143,417.

However, most land owners objected to the cost of the option and requested another option, which included the installation of an 12″ tile to run northeasterly across the Industrial Park to a detention basin on the northeast corner of the park. The estimated cost of that option, known as 4A, was estimated at $33,401.

“We studied this option 4A as requested by the landowners and board, and this would not be the recommended option of the engineers,” noted Kent Rode of I&S. “It is a much reduced capacity and would only drain five percent of a five-year storm and two percent of a 100 year storm. There would still be ponding of water in the area.”

“However, you could still pursue the surface drain option at a later date,”?added Don Etler.

Supervisor Ed Noonan questioned if perhaps adding a culvert underneath 380th Street, or 25th Street, might also help water drain from the area. Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz noted that placing a culvert under the road would be a relatively low-cost proposition, but said he didn’t believe it would be all that effective.

Roger Chism, a landowner adjacent to the area, said he wasn’t hearing any talk of grant funding to do the work.

“There’s not a lot of grant funding for storm water projects,”?Rode answered.

“That’s correct,”?noted Jim Hudson, Drainage Attorney. “There is no grant money for drainage – it has to be paid by those who receive benefit.”

County Auditor Carmen Moser reminded the group that work done under Option 4A would only be paid by people served by the Lateral 30 line, while the Option One would be paid for by all landowners in the district.

“I still think that the City and the Industrial Park should pay for this, it’s their problem,”?commented Supervisor Jerry Hofstad.

“Most of us here weren’t in favor of this industrial park when it started, but those folks ramrodded it through,”?noted Joe Joyce, who lives east of the park. “I think the conversation should end here. Get them to pay for it.”

“I’d agree this probably should have been a city storm water project, not a Drainage District issue,”?Hudson said.

When asked for a cost breakdown, Etler and Rode explained that Option One would affect 40 acres, at an average assessment cost of 3,500 per acre, while Option 4A would affect 20 acres and cost an average of $1,500 acres.

“I agree 100 percent with Jerry,”?Board Chair Keith Wirtz said. “But, the purpose of this meeting is to see what you folks want .”

Mark Walsh, representing Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, stated they supported both options, noting Option one was a good, permanent fix, and Option 4A would be a starting point to get some relief.

Anthony Montag of Montag Manufacturing favored Option 4A, noting his firm had no drainage issues, but understood the problem.

Jason Goodchild of EZ?Energy opposed Option One, stating they would receive no benefit and would suffer a loss of land from the open ditch construction, but also understood there was a problem in the area.

As the sentiment in the room seemed to favor Option 4A, Supervisor Ron Graettinger moved to approve that option. Supervisor Ed Noonan offered a second, and on a roll call vote, the board gave unanimous approval to the motion.

The drainage engineers were asked to accelerate the preparations of bid documents and related information in order to expedite the process so that bids might be let before year’s end.