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Ditch hearing is May 19 on Svea-Blomkest sewer

WILLMAR -- A project to build stabilization ponds for a sanitary sewer system for Blomkest and Svea cannot begin until issues are resolved for discharging treated water into a county ditch.

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners has agreed to conduct a public hearing at 10:15 a.m. May 19. The commissioners will set the outlet fee and assess the determination of benefits to the ditch system at that time.

The project cannot be bid until this part of the process is completed, said Commissioner Harlan Madsen during the board meeting this week.

The county agreed to hire an engineer to study the hydraulic capacity of the ditch and the impact the additional flow will have on it.

The sewer board for the two communities has "all of the other ducks in a row" for the project, said County Attorney Boyd Beccue. "This is probably the last thing they need before they can start."

The communities have been in violation of clean water regulations for five or six years. They've received grants and low-interest loans to help offset the estimated $3.3 million project cost.

The 6-foot-deep ponds will be built on farmland about halfway between Svea and Blomkest on a 20-acre site, about 9½ miles south of Willmar.

Domestic sewage will be pumped from the 300 residents and held in the ponds for about eight months. A small amount of treated water will be discharged once or twice a year into County Ditch 8A, said Loren Engelby, Kandiyohi County drainage supervisor.

Located on Kandiyohi County Road 82, about a half-mile east of U.S. Highway 71, the ponds will be near a house owned by Evelyn Larson that's being leased by a young family.

Larson objected to the site during a conditional use hearing in December. In a telephone interview this week with the Tribune, she reiterated her concerns that the pond area would be too close to the home where a young family is living.

Larson said Wednesday the pond will be "right dab in front of my house."

As part of the conditional use permit, the county did require that a shelter belt be planted on two sides of the ponds.

Larson said the pond area would be 714 feet from her house and about 670 feet from her well. "If they damage my well, they'll have to be responsible," she said.

The engineer for the project has said the ponds would be about 900 feet from Larson's home and that there is more than adequate separation between the ponds and Larson's well. Clay liners in the ponds would also help prevent contamination.

Larson said this week she intends to keep monitoring her well. She was also frustrated that an attempt she made this month to have her property values lowered because of the ponds failed at the township level.

In related business, the commissioners from heard North Fork Crow River Watershed District Administrator Allan Kuseske, who said that money was allocated to survey septic systems in the district but money is not available to issue loans to help fund replacement of failed systems. He said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency won't allow the district to use about $750,000 that was paid back from previous loans.

"That is absurd," said Madsen. He said the MPCA should "get off their dead butts" and use the money to fix the problems.

Commissioner Richard Larson said the district should spend the money and bear the consequences.

The commissioners said they would lobby for a change in the MPCA.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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