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Petition, engineering studies ongoing for Ditch 70

A group of area residents continues to move forward with a petition for improvement to County Ditch 70.

As noted by Otter Tail County Commissioners at a meeting earlier this month, Ditch 70, southeast of Dalton, is broken. When Lake Sewell is high, water flow north of the lake causes loss of tillable land. There are blowouts and damaged tile throughout the ditch system.

Stakeholders include farmers who want to drain their fields efficiently, lakeshore owners who want to keep the water level more constant, downstream property owners, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the state Board of Water and Soil Resources.

The county board can, on its own, repair the ditch to its original design intent. However, the board prefers that landowners take the lead and file a petition.

With a repair there would be no change in water capacity along the ditch. A likely plan would include replacing the tile from Lake Sewell to its discharge into Pelican Creek with new 12-inch tile. Pelican Creek is located about a mile south of Lake Sewell, near the Grant County line.

Engineering studies, with various options, are ongoing. One of those options includes use of 24-inch tile.

In mid-August a public information meeting was held to discuss the status of Ditch 70, to review the preliminary study and to receive input from the benefited property owners concerning the need for repairs or improvements.

New ditch inspector hired

When a county ditch becomes blocked, residents will have a new ditch inspector to contact to help solve the problem. Introduced to county board members on Nov. 6 was new Otter Tail County Ditch Inspector Kevin Fellbaum, a native of Little Falls

In future months, after Fellbaum has reviewed a ditch problem, any of the following three steps may be taken:

-A landowner may clean a county ditch on his own property to the original depth with proper notification and approval of the Ditch Authority (Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners).

-A group of landowners may clean a county ditch if all parties agree to share the cost of the clean out. Proper notification and approval must be given to the Ditch Authority.

-A landowner may petition the County Ditch Authority to clean a ditch. This action would require an engineer's study, an engineer's survey and a redetermination of benefits.