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Broken ditch could cause Wells to flood

By Staff | Feb 28, 2016

Wells could wind up underwater, literally, if a storm sewer drainage pipe is not swiftly fixed this spring.

At the Wells City Council meeting last Monday evening, city engineer Travis Winter addressed a concern to the council regarding a headwall that is a part of Ditch 87, a major outlet for storm water for the city.

“Essentially, the headwall at the outlet for the storm sewer pipe that drains most of the town into the open portion of Ditch 87 has begun to fail,” said Winter. “There is a large crack that has begun to crumble and fall apart.”

Winter said he talked with the drainage manager for Faribault County,?Merissa Lore, and together came up with a repair proposal.

Currently, the plan is to extend the existing storm sewer pipe and slope the ditch back, what Winter calls a fairly common practice.

“It is a vertical headwall there, so the plan now is to put an apron on it and slope it back. As a part of the job, too, they have to replace a section of the existing pipe and they will be extending the diameter,” said Winter.

Currently the pipe is 66 inches in diameter, and Winter is requesting a 72 inch outlet, as per his drainage plan he completed in the mid-2000s.

Winter’s recommendation would be to have the city of Wells pay the additional upsizing fee from 66 to 72 inches for the portion of the pipe that would be replaced.

“At some point in the future, when the rest of the pipe gets replaced, the recommendation would be that it all be upsized to 72 inches, as well,” Winter said.

Based on estimates from Lore, the city of Wells is looking at a bill of $800, but it could be higher once bids are in for the repair project. Winter says the cost is still fairly small.

But, there is actually more work that needs to be done with this repair project.

According to Winter, a potentially abandoned sanitary sewer pipe and man hole were found adjacent to the headwall that needs repairs. A section of clay tile in the pipe was broken, and an odor of sewage was present.

“We would need to remove that as a part of this repair,” said Winter, who also added that because sanitary sewer pipes are a city utility, the city will have to eat the cost, which is an estimated $1,000.

Mayor Gaines recommended a camera be run through the abandoned pipe, to make sure that it is actually abandoned. Councilman David Braun agreed.

“We don’t want to find out the hard way that this thing isn’t abandoned,” said Gaines.

Because the cost estimates are fairly low, city administrator Robin Leslie said the cost could be assumed into the budget. The council passed a formal motion to get the repair to the headwall pipe fixed, and to have the possibly abandoned sewage pipe removed.

The Wells City Council also:

Heard from Prairie Lakes Transit director Jeremy Monahan, who updated the council on the new changes to the bus schedule that started at the beginning of the year.

Monahan stated that there are still kinks that need to be worked out in the schedule in the long run, but he would like to see how things work for a while.

“The whole purpose of this restructuring was to make sure we had regular, predictable times to have a transit bus in each town. We wanted to make it more of an actual public transit system instead of a personal taxi service with buses,” said Monahan, who shared passenger guide pamphlets with members of the council so they could visibly see the bus routes and schedules.

Was updated on the city audit from city administrator Leslie. She shared that things are “so far so good.”

Were updated on the Safe Routes to School Project. Winter shared with the council that the contractor for the project plans on starting on May 15 and is fully aware of the completion schedule by June 15.

There were concerns from multiple council members about such a brief timeline for an extensive sidewalk project.

“I think things will be alright once they get going,” said Winter.

“It’s really two weeks of construction and two weeks of clean up, so the clean up may take a little longer, but the construction should be done by the June date,” said Leslie.

Went over their 2015 goals and set new 2016 goals.

Some of the larger goals completed in 2015 were to work on city ordinances, and update them as needed; beginning the Lion’s Plaza project, which will be completed in late spring; funding two blocks of Wells for a mill and overlay project; having the HRA help fund demolitions of nuisance properties.

The goals which have yet to be completed from 2015 were moved to the 2016 list. The council also shared their 2016 goals such as having at least one new business in the south industrial park, and making a marketing plan for the north industrial park; getting more thorough board meeting synopses during the City Council meetings to encourage thorough communication; engaging the community further in City Council meetings and input; and possibly assisting United South Central with the old school site.

Went into closed session per attorney-client privilege.

The next regular City Council meeting will be held Monday, March 14.