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Tile outlet will be blocked unless landowner petitions in Renville Co.,Minn., drainage dispute

OLIVIA -- Renville County's Board of Commissioners will have a tile outlet into the County Ditch 132 system blocked unless the landowner petitions to have the drained land assigned a benefit and assessed for costs accordingly.

The commissioners issued the ultimatum Tuesday in response to a drainage dispute aired one week earlier.

Richard Kurth added tile to property he owns in Boon Lake Township in 2009. Landowners Steven Wick and Brad Wick asked the commissioners to order that a tile line Kurth installed be blocked.

The tile line carries water across the sub-watershed to Ditch 132. The land in question previously drained directly to Hodgdon Lake, according to information presented at the meeting.

The commissioners also voted to hold an informational meeting on the possibility of launching a redetermination of benefits for the entire Ditch 132 system. The meeting will be at 10 a.m. March 28 in the Renville County Office building.

A redetermination of benefits would be a costly project, but it would identify all the unassessed drainage in the system and the landowners assessed accordingly, as costs are distributed among the lands benefited by a drainage system.

Commissioners on Tuesday also took formal action to correct a clerical error made in 1960 that reassigned a drainage benefit in the affected area to land now owned by Kurth.

Attorney Kurt Deter, of Rinke Noonan Law Firm of St. Cloud, had recommended the three actions to resolve the dispute and correct the error in the records for the system.

The dispute highlights an issue in the drainage systems of area counties. With no formal permit process in place, it is not known how much tile line is being added or where. The added drainage is straining the systems and adversely affecting some landowners. And, it is believed that some of the new drainage is coming from lands that have not been assigned a benefit for the affected systems.

The added drainage and back-to-back wet years are taking an economic toll on the public ditch systems in Renville County. Last year the maintenance costs for the public ditch systems exceeded $1.5 million. Those costs are assessed to the landowners assigned benefits for draining into the public ditch and tile lines.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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