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County approves rerouting ditch, may review water issues

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By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

Land owners on Stevens County Ditch 43 will be allowed to reroute drainage and have a portion of the ditch abandoned to be farmed.

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The county Board of Commissioners approved a plan to reroute. Landowners will install 24-inch concrete tile to move water on land near County Road 63.

After reviewing the plan and the watershed, county Engineer and Interim Coordinator Brian Giese determined that the plan benefits all landowners in the area, and that no lands outside of those owned by the petitioners would be negatively impacted by partially abandoning the ditch.

Giese also said the 1,250 feet of existing tile is in poor condition and would have to be replaced at a cost estimated between $25,000 and $30,000.

The issue led to a brief and preliminary discussion among board members about possibly transfering its authority of some county ditches to the Bois de Sioux Watershed District.

The ditches discussed were 1, 7, 8 and 15.

Giese said the Bois de Sioux almost exclusively handles ditching issues and that by transfering authority the county could avoid duplicating services and expenses.

Transfering authority wouldn't require a redetermination of benefits, and while commissioners might be concerned about losing authority over the ditches, it wouldn't be likely that the Bois de Sioux would force potentially costly ditch issues on affected landowners, said Kurt Deter, of the Rinke Noonan Law Firm in St. Cloud. Deter is the county's ditch and drainage consultant.

If the board chooses to explore the issue further, it will consider scheduling a series of public informational meetings.

In other county business:

•The commissioners approved Giese's recommendation that it award a contract for one road project but that it reject bids for another project.

The board approved awarding a contract for $144,482 to States Borders Construction for grading.

The board rejected bids for County State Aid Highway 9 work in Alberta. States Border's low bid of $455,527 was almost $62,000 over engineering estimates. Giese said the project would be postponed for a year.

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