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Supervisors Discuss Drainage Proposal

By Staff | Aug 18, 2015

With over 20 landowners present on Tuesday afternoon, an informal hearing on proposed improvements and repairs on Drainage District 28 was conducted by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors. Drainage Engineers Jon Rosengren and Don Etler of Bolton and Menk of Spencer presented the findings of their study of the district.

In summarizing the report on the district, which lies in northeastern Vernon and northwestern Independence Townships, Rosengren noted that the district drained some 2,700 acres through tile and an open ditch.

“When this district was originally built, it was designed with a one-sixteenth inch drainage coefficient, which is half of what was normal in 1907, and one-eighth of today’s tile systems,”?Rosengren explained. “

“This district had three open ditches at one time along with tile, and in the 1930’s two of the ditches were filled in,”?Rosengren noted. “This district receives a lot of surface runoff from the west and creates ponding at times of heavy rainfall.”

In their report, Bouton and Menk recommended deepening the open ditch, adding a 48-inch tile that would extend into Section 18 of Independence Township and replacing lateral tile lines with larger diameter tile to increase the overall drainage coefficient to a half-inch.

The total estimated project costs were $2,150,000, or an average assessment of $778 per acre.

It was also noted that the open ditch ran into an un-named creek halfway through Section 20, which ran appropriately a quarter-mile further south before joining into Cylinder Creek.

As discussion began on the proposal, several landowners questioned assessments on their respective properties.

“Knowing the costs up front could certainly help you folks make a better-informed decision on the project,”?noted Don Etler.

“I’m wondering about the people to the south of this,” said Darol Underwood. “Won’t we be dumping more water on them?”

“No, there will be no more water coming down than there is now,”?Etler replied. “It will help the soils be able to take more water, and cut down the surface runoff.”

“We just don’t want to be sued,”?Underwood said. “It sounds like you’ll have to convince those folks of that.”

A comment was offered that work really needed to be done much further south on Cylinder Creek, near Cylinder itself, before any drainage would improve further north.

“If this were done, this would actually help keep from flooding Cylinder by getting rid of the surface water,”?observed landowner Stewart Ohrtman.

“That’s right,”?agreed Rosengren. “We call it draining the sponge.”

Etler pointed out that for this proposal, the drainage district would not be involved in any wetland mitigation efforts, leaving those costs solely to be borne by the affected landowners.

“It is important to note here that the Waters Of The United States act, or WOTUS, takes effect Aug. 28,”?Etler said. “We don’t know what the EPA will do in terms of rules, because they don’t know yet what they’re going to do, so we can’t get answers about what will or won’t be allowed. All I can tell you is it is important that you get wetland determinations on your lands and get them to us.”

After some additional discussion, Supervisor Ed Noonan moved to direct Bouton and Menk to prepare a Preliminary Reclassification Report for DD28, with that information to be made available to the landowners in the district by the time of the Formal Hearing, which is set for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, August 25th, at the Election Center. in Emmetsburg.