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Watershed management report update should be funded by council, Storm Water Task Force says

WILLMAR -- The Storm Water Task Force is asking the City Council to fully fund an update of the city's 1998 watershed management report to properly evaluate task force recommendations for solving storm water flooding problems during heavy rains.

The city had budgeted $50,000 in 2009 for the update and for overall storm water projects, but the amount was cut by $20,000 as part of larger budget reductions due to a cut in Local Government Aid.

The budget still has $30,000 for storm water analysis, which would cover part of the three-phase update. However, the total cost for all three phases could be $75,000, according to minutes of the July 14 Task Force meeting.

Task Force member Laura Becker says the 1998 draft watershed management report by Barr Engineering listed many areas in the city that have storm water issues.

"Please let's make sure these areas are all addressed and fixed,'' she told council members Monday night.

"As many of the longtime residents will say, this is not a new problem. But this problem is getting worse. It seems to be getting worse every time it rains. Please expedite the final draft of the Barr report for the city to get an accurate baseline of what the needs are to fix the storm water issue and purse all remedies to correct this issue,'' Becker said.

Her husband, David, has attended many Task Force meetings and also urged the council to fully fund the update. He said the Task Force was configured to address the city's storm water issues and he believes the council unanimous vote to keep the Task Force going signifies the council believes in the direction that the Task Force is headed.

But he said the Task Force can't continue its mission unless the council addresses funding for a complete Barr report.

"The city did not finish the 1998 report,'' he said. "Since that time the city has been operating with an unfinished report. We need to have a full report to work with and see what Barr Engineering's projections are,'' he said.

The Beckers are acutely aware of flooding issues. They live a few houses west of the intersection of 10th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest, which is a low area that floods during heavy rains.

Laura Becker said the intersection flooded again during a storm the night of Aug. 15 and early morning of Aug. 16. The water rose above the curb and left water lines on neighboring residences.

Also, she said a police squad car became stalled in the high water and was removed by a tow truck.

The couple spoke during the council's open forum.

Also speaking during the open forum was Willmar resident John Sullivan. He urged the city to update the data practices policy. He said state law requires the policy to be updated by Aug. 1 of every year.

City Clerk Kevin Halliday said some names of individuals need to be updated in the policy, but said the policy is legal.

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