Letter to the Editor

Drainage District 37

Sunday, October 27, 2019

I think that Abraham Lincoln said it correctly in his Gettysburg Address when he stated: Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Have we lost a little of that in our local government? We are going into the second year of the Drainage District 37 issue and seem to be no closer to a solution. DD37 is the stream that flows from Trumball L, eventually joining the Little Sioux River southeast of Spencer. The farmland involved in this district has been extensively drained into this stream. The district was established prior to 1920 and has been a great asset to northeast Clay County. Over the years the stream (Pickerel Run) has changed from an open ditch to where several miles are now lined with many trees. Some of these trees probably need to be removed to improve the flow through the area. We agree that some work needs to be done, but just can't come up with a good solution. There seems to be a complete lack of communication between the landowners and the board of supervisors. Maybe we need to depend totally on an outside attorney for our communication. It seems like it is: Our attorney will talk to your attorney, and nothing gets done except run up legal fees.

The original petition presented in 2014 requested that the Trustees of DD37 (board of supervisors) look into the tile outlets in the district. The board apparently determined (through advice of their attorney) that they should do a total repair of the stream (Pickerel Run) that serves as the outlet for Trumbull Lake in northeast Clay County. Approximately two years later a report was issued from our local engineering firm that called for extensive tree removal (total) from the ditch bank along with leveling the dirt spoils area. There was no option presented for a lesser project. Total cost would be in excess of $3.5 million.

Three landowners in the district have filed suit to stop this project, but are endlessly being stopped by legal means. We have the support of over 50% of the landowners, but the board supervisors refuse to discuss others options. We are being totally stonewalled by the refusal to discuss any other plan. An engineer we have hired has come up with a proposal, but we continually hear: under advice of our attorney we cannot speak to you. We don't want to stop the project as we realize there are things that need to be done to improve the drainage issue, we just want to modify it to make it a little more affordable.

One other thing that frustrates me is that there has been absolutely no consideration as to the damage to the wildlife along the stream. From where I live it is not unusual to see several vehicles parked at the dam by Trumball Lake with people fishing at that location. Hunting and trapping also occur throughout the length of the stream. This recreational opportunity does bring in tourism money to the county. The destruction of wildlife habitat would virtually stop any recreation along the stream. At present the area abounds in quite a bit of decent habitat for fish, deer, upland birds and song birds. Most of this habitat would be destroyed. While I know it is not technically the responsibility of the Trustees to protect this, it would seem a little thought could have been given to this aspect of the project.

This whole process has gone on much too long! I believe that an hour or so of logical conversation could remedy the stalemate and put a stop to the excessive legal ad engineering costs to DD37 that are being constantly incurred as we continue to kick the can down the road. Please, I am awaiting your call.

Bob Swan, Dickens