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Palo Alto County Joins North Raccoon Watershed

By Staff | May 3, 2018

In a telephone conference call with Don Etler, Drainage Engineer from Bolton & Menk of Spencer, the Palo Alto County Supervisors discussed a 28E Agreement to become a member of the North Raccoon Watershed during their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 1.

In reviewing the 28E Agreement, Etler noted that at this time there is no financial responsibility for Palo Alto County if the county joins the North Raccoon Watershed.

“You have to be a member in order to vote,” Etler said. “The agreement does not require the County to give any money; however, farther down the road the Watershed may ask for contributions.”

“That’s what I’ve been worried about from the very beginning (referring to the Watershed asking the County for money),” Supervisor Linus Solberg stated. “They (the North Raccoon Watershed) want to form the thing so that they can apply for grants, so they will have lots of money. If down the road something happens, and they don’t get grant money, then they will come to the counties to kick money in.”

“Your representative can’t vote to have you put money in,” Etler stated. “The decision has to come from the member (meaning the County). You will always have control of that decision. They can’t force that on anybody.”

“What’s the mission statement of this group or what’s their goal?” Supervisor Craig Merrill questioned.

“It’s legislative. It’s to identify water quality and flood issues within the watershed,” Etler replied. “To prioritize those issues and work toward ways to jointly handle them.”

“I really don’t think the WMA (Watershed Management Authority) has a long life,” Etler continued. “It’s funded now by this $95 million grant the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) got for HUD and Emergency Management and the Iowa Flood Center is splitting this between some of the WMAs.”

According to Etler the North Raccoon Watershed is a Watershed Management Authority although they don’t currently have any authority. However, Etler is concerned that legislature will give them authority.

“The concern is, is that they are trying to put another layer in there and tell the Board of Supervisors in all these different counties what to do,” Merrill noted. “Am I wrong on that?”

“I believe that’s the goal,” Etler responded. “It’s not there yet but I believe that is the ultimate goal.”

Etler went on to tell the Supervisors that it is such a small piece of Palo Alto County (far southwest corner of Booth Township) that there is not much risk involved.

“Involvement is important and signing the 28E Agreement will give you a voice,” Etler explained. “Even though Palo Alto County has such a small piece within the North Raccoon Watershed, you would have an equal vote in any decisions.”

With some further discussion, the motion was made and seconded to sign the 28E Agreement with the North Raccoon Watershed. Unanimous approval was given.

Landowner Aaron Dietrich was on hand requesting that the Supervisors annex some farmland into Drainage District 80.

“There is 43 acres in Freedom Township that I am requesting be voluntarily annexed into DD 80,” Dietrich began. “Don Etler from Bolton & Menk of Spencer did a study for us and made recommendations to add these acres into DD 80.”

“Adding more water to DD 80 makes me worry about water in Lower DD 80,” Landowner Jamie Moser said. “This section of DD 80 was supposed to be fixed over a year ago. Last fall would have been the perfect time, but no one showed up. Has a study been provided yet?”

“How close are we to getting a report on Lower DD 80?” Moser asked. “We requested this repair over a year ago.”

“We have applied for a permit, so probably around July 1,” Etler replied.

“What permit, if nothing has been approved?” Moser questioned.

“A pre-report permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to see if we can go straight to the river or if we have to follow the existing channel,” Etler answered.

Moser added that he thinks going clear to the river would be a bad idea. Currently, the Supervisors are waiting on the report from Etler in July before they proceed.

The following people have been approved as part time employees for the Conservation Department: with a start date of May 3, Alex Hoffman will start at $14.00 per hour, with a salary increase to $14.50 on July 1, with a start date of May 14, Tony Murray will start at $8.33 per hour, Dennis Barrick will start at $11.00 per hour (Dennis is a fill in when someone is gone) and Donald Larson will start at $14.00 per hour, with a salary increase to $14.50 on July 1 and on May 21, Nick Josephson will start at $9.00 per hour.

In final business, the Supervisors recognized and accepted a petition for annexation and reclassification of Drainage District 92 and appointed Rick Hopper, Drainage Engineer from Jacobson-Westergard of Estherville to prepare the report.