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Water board to float drain plans

May 15, 2012

The Barnes County Water Resource District Board has set a public hearing for the enlargement of the assessment district for the Thordenskjold Drain, shown above and below. The hearing will take place during the next water board meeting at 9 a.m., June 11, in the Barnes County Highway Department.

NOME – The Barnes County Water Resource District Board met Monday with an agenda that included the Thordenskjold Drain Assessment District in the southeast portion of the county and a proposed outlet on Ten Mile Lake in the northwestern section of the county.

The assessment district for the Thordenskjold drain near Nome has grown from less than 8,000 acres to 23,400 acres.

“Over a year ago, we started looking at what the watershed was for the water that was getting in there,” said Mike Opat of Moore Engineering Inc., a West Fargo-based engineering firm that assists the water board. “By the time we were done we were up northwest of Cuba.”

Opat said water has been causing damages throughout the district and the board assessing a small amount on landowners in that area was justifiable. The Canadian Pacific Railroad company may also be assessed as they have tracks in the area.

To maintain the drain, the water board assessed $1 an acre for four years about two years ago, and has the option of going for a maximum six-year assessment.

“You don’t have to be charging money year in and year out,” said board member Pat Hurley. “You can get a fund in there and you can use that and you can drop the assessments so you don’t charge everybody every year.”
A hearing for landowners will be held at 9 a.m. at the water board’s next meeting on June 11 at the Barnes County Highway Department.
Opat also presented the board with a preliminary engineering proposal for an outlet on Ten Mile Lake, which is threatening roads and farms between Wimbledon Leal and Dazey.

The total cost of preliminary data collection, wetland impact determinations; preliminary design and cost estimates, cost share and funding applications, benefit analysis, assessment district maps and lists and permitting comes to $55,000.

Opat said there are other fees associated with the project as well.
“Permitting – that’s about $10,000 to go through that process, and that doesn’t include any legal time... permitting is a substantial amount,” Opat said.

The three- or four–mile long drain from the lake would involve about 50 to 60 square miles and a half dozen square miles in Stutsman county. Much of the water originally flowed from Stutsman, and the water board will meet with that county’s officials about establishing a joint water district for the project.

The proposed drain will be on the north side of the lake. The water board originally hoped to go south but there were too many protected wetlands to mitigate through. The northern route will still have some wetlands to cross, which Opat said could be done via pipe or by altering the route.

The water board would also have to acquire a bond from area landowners to get the project off the ground.

“The reason for the bond is to finance those development costs otherwise they’ll come out of the general fund,” said Sean Fredericks, the board’s lawyer. “If the project passes and it goes to assessment, you can refund those bond costs. That way the land owners would recognize that the money would be security for the development costs and if the project vote failed that’s how you’d cover your development costs. If it passes they’d get it back.”

The board will appoint some land owners with a primary interest in the project to collect support for it from their neighbors.

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