Project to Wait on NRCS Survey

Some Barnes County residents who farm north of Sanborn will have to remain patient for a little while longer to resolve a 20-year-old water problem.

Potter Township Supervisor David Lettenmaier addressed the Barnes County Water Resource District Board on Monday to discuss the area about a mile outside of the city limits where water has been backed up since heavy rains and flooding in 1993.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service is currently conducting a survey on the area, which must be completed before any further steps can be taken.

“I don’t think anything is going to happen overnight, but to help save taxpayers money on many levels there needs to be some water flow through there that currently is not happening,” Lettenmaier said.

Lettenmaier’s brother, Duane Lettenmaier, a former water board member, had initiated a project late last year to remove some obstructions that were slowing down flow in the area, where he maintains a farming operation. Duane was removed from the water board by the Barnes County Commission last month when the commission decided that he had used water board funds to exceed the scope of the original project of which he was a beneficiary. However, the water board still remains the sponsor of the project and will continue to be the sponsor until the end of the year.

“We need a sponsor to keep looking at this to figure out what’s the proper elevation, where the culverts should be and whether or not downstream (landowners) has gradually slowed down the (drainage) process – whether dirt has been filled in from farming, erosion or fence lines,” David Lettenmaier said.

“Basically I want the water board to sponsor it and keep looking at it, because it’s not going away. It’s still a problem. Two to three years from now the county road (11, which runs through the area with water on both ditches) could be inundated with water.”

NRCS District Conservationist Amanda Brandt said once the crops are harvested from the adjacent fields the agency will be able to finish the survey.

Water board vice chairman Pat Hurley said his farmland is in a similar position and he feels for the farmers north of Sanborn.

“We’ve got water down at our place too, and we don’t want to hold water. We’d like to see water moving and that’s the way the water board feels, and that’s what we want to do,” Hurley said. “We’re going to wait for Amanda and her team to go out and do their determination and go from there.”