In response to landowner concerns first expressed in 2011, the county engineer’s office conducted a survey of land within the Orton Slough drainage district and the existing drainage facilities at the direction of the Board of Supervisors, who serve as trustees for the district. Survey work was completed in mid-2012. Design work on district improvements was delayed by the workload already in the county engineer’s office. In September 2013, the Board of Supervisors requested and accepted proposals from three engineering consultants for design of Orton Slough drainage improvements. The I and S Group from Storm Lake was selected as engineer for the drainage district.
An informal hearing was held in January for district landowners with initial design concepts prepared by I and S Group engineers. Unfortunately the scheduled hearing coincided with a snow storm, which hurt attendance at the meeting. For those in attendance at the meeting, three alternatives for drainage district improvements were shared with landowners who were able to ask the consultant questions about the project. The three alternatives presented were as follows:
- A second 54” tile would be placed along the existing 20” tile. Approximate cost: $607,000
- A single 60” tile replacing the existing tile on a new alignment. Approximate cost: $788,000
- Open ditch replacing the existing tile on a new alignment: Approximate cost: $432,000- $544,000 (depending upon option selected)
Both at the hearing and in the weeks following, concerns were expressed the about project’s effect on water quality in Browns Lake. With a more efficient outlet for drainage district water, some Browns Lake landowners expressed concern that additional sediment would be carried along with storm water removed by the improved outlet. To help address these concerns, the consulting engineer for the district recommended that the Board apply for a Watershed Improvement Review Board (WIRB) grant to make some upstream improvements designed to capture sediment prior to discharge of water into Browns Lake. Water bodies such as Browns Lake which are classified as impaired waters of the state are eligible for WIRB grants. The Board approved the application for the grant.
Since the storm preventing some landowners from attending the January hearing, a second meeting will be held in mid-March for a second presentation of the project. Answers to some of the questions asked at the first hearing about the project are being researched to provide landowners additional information. Drainage district landowners will be notified once the next hearing is scheduled.