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Storm Water Task Force requests plan update to study solutions for flooding

WILLMAR -- The Storm Water Task Force says a draft 1998 city watershed management plan should be updated to properly evaluate the effect of the task force's five recommendations for solving flooding problems during heavy rains.

Task force member Karen Thibault says the 1998 plan by Barr Engineering remains in draft form. In order for Barr to evaluate task force recommendations, it must first finalize the 11-year-old report, she said.

"This is a necessary first step if we are to then properly evaluate the impact of the five recommendations presented to the mayor and council on May 4 by the task force,'' Thibault told the Finance Committee.

City Administrator Michael Schmit told the committee, along with six task force members attending the meeting, that Barr Engineering has been asked to submit price quotes for a three-phase update of the 1998 plan, but those amounts won't be known for a couple of weeks.

Schmit said the 2009 city budget had set aside $50,000 for updating the plan and for overall storm water projects, but the amount was reduced by $20,000 as part of budget cuts to reflect this year's unallotment of Local Government Aid from the state.

Schmit said the engineering department budget still has $30,000 for storm water analysis.

"I think that that's probably going to be enough or close to enough to finish phase 1 of the Barr program, now I don't know about (phases) 2 and 3. We hope in a couple of weeks to have more firm numbers from Barr, so we don't know how far that $30,000 will carry us,'' he said.

The task force reported its recommendations at the May 4 council meeting. The 12-member task force was established by the council in August 2008 at the suggestion of a local resident to find possible solutions to storm water flooding during heavy rain events.

Thibault said task force members continue to meet regularly. She said the task force did not want to be forgotten.

Finance Committee Chairman Denis Anderson said he didn't know what action the committee could take since the budget already has money set aside for the update. But he said completing the Barr report was important and he said the committee continues to support the task force.

One of the task force's recommendations was to temporarily store and treat storm water runoff at the old wastewater treatment plant and pump the runoff by a force main to a detention area along 19th Avenue Southwest. The old plant would be used after the new wastewater treatment plant begins operation in late 2010.

Other recommendations:

- Use acreage west of Menards for a holding pond.

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

- Use the Kennedy Elementary School ballpark land to relieve flood-prone intersections and areas, and install drainage tile to ensure the ballpark land is usable for recreational and school activities.

- Construct a series of ponds near County Ditch 23A in the Grass Lake area and excavate about 28 acres to capture spillover.

In an interview, Thibault said the task force has discussed other possibilities, but always returns to the same five recommendations. The task force continues to meet every two weeks "and we know that we need information from the Barr report to progress to go forward, and that's what brought us to the meeting tonight.''

Other task force members present were Marv Gieseke, Vera Novak, Joe Ridler, Mike Haase and Laura Becker.

In other business, the committee approved four leases at the rate of $100 per acre with Mark Kvam, Andrew Kvam Trust, Kvam Limited Partnership and Ivan Groothuis Trust.

The leases will allow the parties to farm the land within the right-of-way corridor purchased by the city to build the new wastewater treatment plant's interceptor sewer line. The corridor is located between County Road 116 and County Road 15.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150