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‘You are on your own, USC’

By Staff | Feb 17, 2019

While local watershed owners, who share the area with the USC School, were quick to share their ideas about water drainage solutions, they were also quick to disagree with plans on improving watershed tile.

United South Central may have to deal with their water retention issue on their own after a special School Board meeting yielded minimal results in talking with neighboring farmers with regard to sharing drainage tile.

Chuck Brandel, vice president of ISG, an environmental engineering firm, led the meeting, with Faribault County drainage manager Merissa Lore and drainage water management technician Dustin Anderson in attendance, as well as county commissioners Tom Warmka and Bill Groskreutz. USC School Board members Dale Stevermer, Brad Heggen, and Tom Legred joined with superintendent Keith Fleming to talk with several area farmers.

Brandel provided those in attendance with five options for the storm water drainage issue on the USC?School site. All land owners in the Faribault County Ditch 90 watershed were welcome to attend and hear Brandel’s suggestions.

Option one was to provide a direct outlet to USC’s retention pond at an existing design of .25 inches per day, installing 200 feet of six inch tile. This option would be accomplished by a Petition for a Lateral, and would only benefit the school property with it’s limited capacity of 35 acres of farm land drainage originally in the watershed. It would drain the ponds down in six days after a large rain event, with a net benefit cost of $59,166.

Option two discussed a size buried tile at .50 inches per day or better and 1.0 inch per day for open ditch crossings. This improvement option would consist of 1,350 feet of open ditch cleaning, and would replace existing field crossing with 60-inch RCP culvert tile. Mainline tiles would also be replaced up to the proposed retention pond on USC property. This would require 900 feet of 36-inch tile, 3,800 feet of 30-inch tile, or 3,200 feet of 24-inch tile, allowing the retention pond to drain down to its original design in three days after a large rain event with an improvement cost that comes to $558,740.

Option three was a buried tile that would pull water out at .75 inches per day or better and would consist of 1,350 feet of open ditch cleaning, replacing existing field crossing with 60-inch RCP culvert, and a Mainline tile installation up to USC pond of 900 feet of 42-inch tile, 2,300 feet of 36-inch tile, 3,600 feet of 30-inch tile, or 1,100 feet of 24-inch tile, draining the pond in 2.5 days after a large rain event. The improvement cost of option three would be $621,410.

Option four would consist of 1,350 feet of open ditch cleaning, with mainline tile installation and branch B tile installation of anywhere from 800 feet of 12-inch tile to 5,950 feet of 24-inch tile; this proposed option would see an improvement cost of $959,722.

Option five was to use existing eight-inch private tile located to the west of the stormwater basin that is connected to the CD 90 system. The school has connected to the tile and now has a direct outlet for its stormwater facility.

Brandel states videos were also presented of televising of the existing CD 90 system from 2005, and stressed that each of these options were just ideas for the watershed owners to discuss.

“Providing a direct outlet was recommended in all of the improvement options presented by ISG. The direct outlet allows the storm water basin to drain down after rain events,” said Brandel. “As mentioned in ISG’s preliminary review, the stormwater basin was originally designed to outlet through two 24-inch culverts. Therefore, a hydrologic model of the pond should be completed with the new eight-inch outlet to ensure that the 100-year storm event does not back up into the school.”

The hydrologic model will determine if the existing storage is adequate to handle the 100-year-storm event and if the emergency overflow needs to be modified to ensure stormwater does not back up into the school, Brandel shared.

Each option came with deep costs that concerned the shared landowners greatly.

“Who put this thing (school building) in a hole?” asked one concerned farmer. “You put a school in a hole. Who shot this? Who surveyed it? Nobody talked to me about this, and now we got to pay for it? Why are we getting penalized for USC?getting put in a hole? Who screwed up? It’s not us.”

Many landowners brought their own ideas to the table, but were not acted upon due to laws and regulations set by the state of Minnesota.

“We have to go through the proper procedures and rules,” said Brandel.

“We could put a price tag on this for each farmer,” stated Lore to the public. “We would have to go through the county auditor, but it can be done. The old books are how it’s assessed now, so there’s a chance those prices may not be accurate.”

“My question is,” stated one farmer. “Why the school didn’t talk to their engineer or architect with this problem. Anyone with eyes can see the school is sitting in low-lying land. Of course water is going to flow towards it.”

After some debate from landowners, USC School Board member Dale Stevermer stated that the school would petition for a lateral connection, with or without the watershed owner’s agreement, which would allow the school to have at least one outlet to get rid of its excess water.

“We need an outlet for this water regardless,” said superintendent Keith Fleming.

“I think your liability lies with the engineer of this design,” stated one woman. “They designed this to work, it’s clearly not working, so your issue is with your engineers.”

After two hours of discussion, the meeting came to a close with a lot of questions still up in the air. It will be up to the USC School District to make the next move on where their water may go.