Webster/Calhoun drainage project is done

A large and costly drainage project in Webster and Calhoun counties has been declared complete, but with four stipulations that still need to be addressed by the contractor.

More work may need to be done to the ditch as a separate project, but no decision has been made yet. A cost estimate will be prepared for adjusting the slope of the ditch in key areas.

The two county boards of supervisors also disagreed on how to pay the two drainage attorneys.

Supervisors from both counties met Tuesday afternoon in a public hearing to discuss the project with landowners.

The project in joint drainage district 70 Webster and 95 Calhoun, located southeast of Somers, concerns about 12.9 miles of open ditch, said John Milligan, of MHF Engineering. The work was done by Ingraham Construction in summer of 2013.

Milligan reported that all the originally planned work was completed by March this year.

The original bid for the project was about $596,500, but unforeseen problems caused about $134,900 in extra expenses. A sand seam was discovered running through more than 4 miles of the ditch, causing parts of the banks to collapse. A large number of additional pipes were also found, adding to the cost.

Milligan suggested that certain areas of the ditch need to be riprapped in order to keep the bank from collapsing again. He said to do only the most critical areas would cost around $194,000, and to stabilize all the areas of concern would cost about $486,000.

Riprap is rock added to the banks of a ditch to prevent erosion. Using it could hinder future cleanups, Milligan said, since rock and silt would end up in the bottom of the ditch together.

The board previously decided to declare this project done, because it is substantially complete according to the design specifications, and do any additional work in a separate project.

Most of the present landowners did not want to do the riprapping. Webster County Supervisor Merrill Leffler said this would be a repair addressing a future problem, for something that is not currently in disrepair.

The ditch hasn’t been cleaned out since 1948, he said, so it might not need it again for many years.

Steve Peterson, from near Gowrie, asked what it would cost to pull the banks out, and attain a slope of 2 to 1 in the ditch. The supervisors directed Milligan to look into it. They took no further action on any future project.

The board voted unanimously to declare the project done, with four stipulations.

Re-seeding the inner banks was to be part of the project, Milligan said, but a good number of the banks have nothing growing on them.

“You are responsible for getting that established,” Milligan said to Brad Ingraham.

Landowner Steve Peterson, from near Gowrie, said the slope of the ditch on his property was too steep.

“The first step … is to have the banks done at the proper and recommended 2 to 1 slope,” he said.

Milligan said 2 to 1 is the proper slope for ditches being constructed today, but the 100-year-old ditch has a slope ranging from 1 to 1 to about 1 1/4 to 1. The design specification called for the contractor to follow the existing slope.

Ingraham must complete the seeding, remove rock from Peterson’s land, examine some bridges in the district and work on another landowner’s surface drains within 30 days. If these issues are not fixed, they will be paid from Ingraham’s retainer.