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County continues Ditch 25 discussions

At a meeting Tuesday, the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners revisited their plan to drain excess waters from Little McDonald, Kerbs and Paul lakes through several downstream lakes and waterways, including part of Ditch 25.

Other than making some minor word changes to the document, the county took no new actions on the matter Tuesday. They gave verbal approval to the plan last week.

No citizens spoke for or against the plan at this meeting.

However, downstream residents have been vocal in the past about their concerns with this project, which include but are not limited to increased phosphorus levels, an influx of invasive species and water quality deterioration.

In their discussions Tuesday, commissioners reiterated that precautionary measures, in the interests of downstream residents, are included in the plan.

"We have strict safeguards in place," said county board member John Lindquist.

He explained that operations would be temporarily halted when downstream adverse situations come into play. The county will work in coordination with the Minnesota DNR and other agencies.

The outlet route, west of Perham, will extend in a southwesterly direction. Water will discharge from Little McDonald Lake to Berger Lake, in turn flowing through Big McDonald, Round, Star, Dead, Walker and Otter Tail lakes. Then the water will flow into the Otter Tail River.

Lindquist said Tuesday that county board approval for the outlet plan, and use of Ditch 25, is the right thing to do. He said that fellow board members concurred.

The plan will proceed dependent on approval by various state and federal agencies. Many regulatory hurdles remain before the drainage plan can become a reality.