Near record rainfall creates havoc with county road

By GREG SCELLIN
Signal Editor

More discussions about what to do with a muddy mess in the extreme north central part of the county continued at the regularly-scheduled September 23 Fillmore County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Several land owners, farmers and businessmen with ties to the farmland near the intersection of County Road 14 and County Road B, north of Fairmont,  in the Fairmont Township attended the county board meeting last Tuesday.  In attendance included Galen Real, Ron Real, Andy Hubert, Dennis Hall, Howard Lefler, Robert Galusha and Ron Clark.
Near record or record late summer rainfall amounts in the northern part of Fillmore County have forced water over Road 14 between County Road A and County Road B.  Road ditches are also at maximum capacity along Road 14.  Fillmore County Highway Superintendent Pat Halbur informed the supervisors that after talking to several federal and state agencies, it appears the county has the main authority to drain water from a roadway.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has interest in a section of ground just southeast of the water-covered road.
In an e-mail from the state, Halbur said she felt the local FSA office has some say in the standing water situation.  Halbur noted that changes in water flow could ultimately affect farm program involvement for area landowners.  Also, by moving water it could make the wetland designation even larger.
The draining of farmland in the area, the lack of a culvert in a drive way and other potential water blockages have also had different levels of contribution to the water standing on Road 14.
“It didn’t start it…it compounded it,” Galen Real said.
Sending the water moving to farmland to the south of the Road 14 and Road B intersection could cause another series of problems.
“When they planted that crop they never planned on having a big pond drained on them,” Supervisor Jerry Galusha said.  “What does it do to the value of the land when you drain this big pond onto them?  Years and years later, we’re going to change this?”
More than 13 inches of rain has escalated the amount of standing water in the area.  Between six and seven quarter sections of ground south of the intersection could be affected if the water flowed in that direction.  The potential of lawsuits on both sides of the blockage were discussed at early county board meetings.
“We’re in a no-win situation as far as I am concerned,” Board Chairman Larry Cerny said.
Staked-in barricades currently stand on both sides of Road 14 between Road A and Road B.
“I’m not sure our deal is with federal payments…,” Supervisor Jeff Neiman said. “Our responsibility is the county road, but not at all costs.”
Discussion also took place about the involvement or concern of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and natural resources districts with the standing water.  Many agreed the corps deals with running water and natural resource districts seem not that interested.
“I agree with Larry (Cerny)…it’s a no-win situation,” Supervisor Bob Mueller said.
Several discussions on September 23 centered around when the water started pooling in the area.
“Whatever we do, it isn’t going to make everyone happy,” Neiman said.  “I don’t think we want to get into the business of changing (farm) payments and stuff like that…it’s also something that’s been there for eons and now we’re going to change it?”
The supervisors voted 5-1 (Supervisor Merle Noel—no, Supervisors Steve Yates—absent) to leave Road 14 between Road A and Road B closed as it is.

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