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Letter to the Editor: Many downstream residents 'absolutely do not' support drainage plan

The EOT Focus article dated July 19 addressing the Little McDonald, Kerbs and Paul lakes (LMKP) proposed outlet was very misleading because it suggested that there was agreement among downstream lakes to allow the outlet project to proceed.

This outlet issue has been extensively debated throughout the past year between the LMKP Lake Improvement District (LID), Otter Tail County officials and the downstream lakes who are being asked to receive the water from Little McDonald Lake. While the county did vote to approve this outlet project this past week, the majority of the downstream lakes absolutely do not support the LMKP outlet project in its current format.

Our lake associations' position on the LMKP outlet proposal is that while we are empathetic to the high water situation on Little McDonald, Paul and Kerbs lakes, we also strongly contend that any action approved by Otter Tail County cannot and should not have a detrimental impact on downstream lakes.

The outlet option selected by the LMKP LID to route their water through 10 downstream lakes is not the most appropriate or safest route, rather their decision was based in part on the least expensive solution.

There are other alternatives available that would have allowed the proposed outlet to bypass most of the downstream lakes, but these were not actively considered by the LID representatives. One route, repeatedly suggested by both the DNR and the county in the past, is to run the water directly over to the Otter Tail River. Had this solution been implemented there would be no controversy occurring today and much, if not all, of the recent flood expenses incurred by LMKP residents could have been avoided.

A number of our downstream lakes have regularly attended county hearings on this issue over the past year; however we were not invited to participate in discussions between the county and the LMKP LID. Finally, and at our request, we were allowed to participate in the final draft of the "Outlet Operation Plan" that established the criteria for when the LMKP outlet would be allowed to operate.

We felt it very important to participate in these meetings in the event Otter Tail County granted approval for this outlet proposal to ensure that we had some protections in place for our lakes.

Participation in the Operation Plan meetings does not, however, mean that our downstream lakes support the LMKP outlet proposal! We do not!

Again, while we empathize with the high water situations on the LMKP lakes, our lake associations do not support the LMKP outlet as currently proposed.