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Answers To Grand Avenue Drainage Woes May Be Found In Old Drainage Proposal

August 21, 2014
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

Some eight years after a proposed drainage improvement was laid to rest by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors, the ghost of that project has reappeared before the board following the heavy rainfalls in June of this year that fell on the Emmetsburg area. The topic of the old drainage plan was discussed during the Aug. 12 meeting of the Board of Supervisors as part of a discussion on drainage issues in the City of Emmetsburg.

Drainage Engineer Don Etler of Bolton Menk of Spencer brought his original plans for Drainage District 80 Lateral One with him to the discussion, which was an outgrowth of the severe flooding that occurred on North Grand Avenue in Emmetsburg after the rains in mid-June. Several homes were rendered uninhabitable due to the flooding and length of time it took for the water to drain.

"DD80 Lateral One is the second oldest drainage district in the county," Etler noted, "it was originally proposed as an open ditch to run to Highway 18 back in 1907. But, it was switched to a 24-inch tile, and that was one of the biggest mistakes in drainage history in this county."

Etler noted that back in early 2005, a petition for improvement to Lateral One had been submitted to the Board of Supervisors, asking to improve drainage of lands east along highway 18 and to the west, toward the railroad. After the initial petition, Etler prepared a study with several options, but preferred the option of an open ditch to the east along a section line adjacent to the railroad tracks, then north and back to the west to the Wild Rose driveway, with an approximate cost of $453,000. Another option called for extending the open ditch north just short of Highway 18 from the railroad tracks to the south, and then taking 48-inch storm sewer to the casino property, with an approximate cost of $516,000.

Etler noted that the options would have seen the tile extended to the west property line of the Wild Rose, which is Huron Street. Currently, tiles are located west of Huron under the former dredge spoil site, and it is those tiles that handled the area along North Grand Avenue.

But, the Supervisors denied the request in August of 2006 after over 60 percent of the landowners who would have been affected by the work objected to the proposed costs.

"What killed that project was that the city didn't want to pay towards it," Supervisor Ron Graettinger said.

"No, I believe the city objected as they were being asked to pay more that what the assessment schedules would have called for," Emmetsburg City Administrator John Bird countered.

"That's correct," Graettinger agreed.

Turning their attention back to the tile lines through the dredging spoil site, Etler told the board that the two tile lines were small, and that one had somehow become plugged prior to the June storm. "The tile is open now, and they both drain up to the current Lateral One tile."

Etler noted that an earlier thought that perhaps a tile could be installed to drain the area to Five Island Lake was not practical, as the lake is actually higher than the area in question.

"It is in the authority of the Drainage District to put in another line," Etler said. "My recommendation would be that it be a 48-inch tile designed to meet current urban drainage standards."

"We could still use your original report, is this correct?" Supervisor Craig Merrill asked Etler, who answered to the affirmative, but noted that cost estimates would have to be adjusted for inflation over the past years.

Merrill then moved to have Etler update his original report, exploring the option of a large tile versus an open ditch option, along with extending an line to the North Grand area, The motion was carried on a 3-2 vote, with Supervisors Ed Noonan, Keith Wirtz and Merrill voting aye and Supervisors Graettinger and Linus Solberg voting no.

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz, who sat in on the meeting, also suggested that Etler might look at the possibility of some type of lift station for the North Grand area that could get water to DD80 Lateral. Etler was agreeable with the suggested and promised to look at that as well, ending the discussion.



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