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Willmar City Council mulls over alternate idea for the old treatment plant

WILLMAR -- Members of the Storm Water Task Force are suggesting a new use for the old treatment plant once the new plant opens: temporarily store and treat storm water runoff from heavy rains.

The water would be pumped through an existing forcemain to a temporary detention area along 19th Avenue Southwest -- to be implemented by late 2011.

Another recommendation is to construct a holding pond on land west of Menards to tie in with an existing ditch, and construct a new ditch or widen an existing ditch to carry water away to Grass Lake and relieve pressure from Ditch 23A.

Those recommends were tied for first and were among six recommendations reported by the task force to the Willmar City Council Monday night.

The council established the task force in August 2008 at the suggestion of a local resident to find possible solutions to storm water flooding that recurs during heavy rain events. Twelve members were appointed in mid-December and met regularly from January through April.

The council approved a motion by Ron Christianson to allow the task force to continue its work, review its findings and do additional financial and engineering investigation.

Task force member Terry Brunson said everyone brought interest and passion to the discussion. Brunson asked the council to expand the group's work and develop additional findings.

"Obviously, these are the first steps and we realize as a task force that no one recommendation is going to be a cure-all for the storm water runoff challenges that face us as a city,'' said Brunson. "But, we believe that future investment in these recommendations represents significant progress toward relieving existing storm water issues.''

Brunson said more financial and engineering investigation is required "and we need to dive more deeply into the feasibility for each recommendation to more adequately evaluate their impact.''

The task force worked with presenters and resources to understand the dynamics involved in addressing storm water runoff issues, he said.

Council members praised the task force and its report.

Jim Dokken said the task force reinforces to him "that citizens of this community have a lot of the answers that we're looking for and we need to lean more heavily on the citizens to solve the problems that we have in our city.''

Tim Johnson praised the "dedication and thoroughness of your work, and look forward to having you proceed, figure out the details and some of the costs and move forward and get the job done.''

Mayor Les Heitke said he liked the variety of ideas.

Brunson said all recommendations begin with community education of the public and private sectors, business owners and homeowners.

Other recommendations:

? Enlarge and expand Ramblewood pond to increase storage capacity to mitigate potential overflow issues on Willmar's southwest side.

? Kennedy School ballpark with tiling. Re-landscape and better use land behind the football stadium to relieve local flood-prone intersections and areas, and install drainage tile to ensure field is usable for continuous recreational and school applications.

? Ponds at Grass Lake. Construct a series of ponds near Ditch 23A, and excavate about 28 acres to capture spillover.

Brunson said investment in these recommendations represents significant progress toward relieving storm water issues in flood-prone areas. Each recommendation would require in-depth feasibility study to evaluate the effects.