Humboldt seeks drainage input

DAKOTA CITY – In their role as drainage trustees, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors held an informal hearing Monday on a proposed drainage district during a regular board meeting.

The supervisors are considering establishing Drainage District 125 northeast of Gilmore City, which would enable the closing of 12 agricultural drainage wells.

The informal hearing’s purpose was to give facts to the public and allow them to ask questions before a formal hearing, said Rick Hopper, drainage engineer with Jacobson-Westergard & Associates of Estherville.

The formal hearing will be Oct. 21.

Hopper estimated the project will cost just under $2 million.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has earmarked $1.5 million toward the project.

If the project does not go through, the funds will likely go toward other projects, said Mike Bourland, an IDALS engineer.

There remains strong interest at the state level for closing such wells, he said. Of the estimated 300 agriculture drainage wells in Iowa, about 50 still remain to be closed. Bourland believes the funding will continue be available in the short term.

“I know people are committed to getting them all closed,” he said.

About the year 2020, the well permits will expire and at some point the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will probably mandate their closing, Bourland said.

Hopper said there is no pressure being put on the landowners to accept the project.

Bourland said the decision remains entirely with the landowners.

Hopper said there appears to be enough opposition from landowners to stop the project, but people have the option to withdraw their objection when they learn more. He encouraged anyone with questions to meet with him personally.

About eight residents attended the hearing.

Supervisor Harlan Hansen said the farmers have got to know well closure will be mandated in the future and there might not be any funding available then to help.

“Environmental issues, they are not going to back off on,” Hopper said.