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Area cities hopeful for flood mitigation funds

MAYNARD -- Three area communities are named as recipients of state funds for flood mitigation projects as part of an overall, $20 million appropriation signed into law.

Maynard, Montevideo and Granite Falls are among the communities listed as those in the state to be appropriated funds by the legislation approved at the end of the session.

But this many days after the session's end, the communities are still unsure of what funds they will receive.

The legislation specifies that the majority of the funds are to be appropriated to the City of Moorhead. The office of Governor Mark Dayton, and staff with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, are expected to oversee how the funds are allocated. The communities are waiting to learn how the funds will be divvied up, according to officials in the local communities.

State Sen. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, said the DNR has a priority list of flood mitigation projects. It also attempts to make the most of state funds by supporting projects where federal matching funds can also be utilized.

Mayor Richard Groothuis of Maynard said he was happy to see the community of 366 people listed in the legislation, but is not sure that funding will be provided to meet all of the needs.

Koenen had introduced legislation seeking over $3.2 million to help Maynard rebuild its sanitary sewer infrastructure and raise a berm to protect the wastewater treatment plant along Hawk Creek. Mayor Groothuis said the need to replace a sanitary sewer lift station and underground, sanitary sewer lines are the most pressing needs.

The city was able to avoid serious problems Easter Sunday of this year when a sanitary sewer line collapsed under the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks. City workers were able to bypass the line, but also fought with mechanical problems at the lift station.

The City of Montevideo is seeking $3.5 million to complete the third and final phase of its project to rebuild and enhance its levee system to protect against a 100-year flood event. City Manager Steve Jones said much of the third phase work is "shovel ready'' and could get underway this year if funding is provided.

The first two phases were completed with federal funding and the support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Congressional appropriation did not include enough funds to complete the final phase, and the city is hoping to match its funds with state dollars to complete that work.

The City of Granite Falls is completing a series of flood mitigation projects totaling over $15 million began after the 1997 flood. Mayor Dave Smiglewski said the city estimates that about $500,000 in state funding would allow it to complete the final two large projects on the list.

The city has pledged funds and obtained federal dollars to replace a sanitary lift station located along the Minnesota River. A new station would be built out of the flood plain at an estimated cost of $1.3 million, with federal funds appropriated for 80 percent of the total.

The city is also seeking funds towards a project to develop an estimated, $1 million pump station that would be placed along Seventh Street.

Tom Cherveny

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

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