Watershed revisions discussed
Two organizers of the English River Watershed Management Authority presented a revision of their proposed articles of agreement to the Washington County Board of Supervisors during the board’s weekly meeting Tuesday morning.
Ryan Schlabaugh and Jody Bailey spoke about some refinements of the articles of agreement and said they are accepting feedback for further revisions.
Bailey told the supervisors that a final version of the agreement will be ready in August and that she and Schlabaugh would appear before the board to ask the county supervisors to approve the agreement.
Schlabaugh said that the management authority will have no taxation or eminent domain powers.
Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. asked if there would be any cost to participate. Schlabaugh said that no funds will be requested up front. The management authority will seek grant funding. He also said he hopes everyone involved will see the benefit of watershed management and that they will support the effort with funds.
Bailey said that the purpose of the management authority is to decrease flooding events, to save topsoil from washing away and to create structures that would reduce the flow of water into the river.
Seward asked about the results of the group’s meeting with county engineers. Bailey said organizers met with six county engineers who are well aware of the costs of flooding. Washington County engineer Jacob Thorius said he hopes the county supervisors will support the effort to establish the management authority. He said he knows quite a bit already about the cost of flooding in the county.
Supervisor Bob Yoder suggested that the goals of the management authority may take 10 to 20 years to accomplish. Bailey said it would more likely be 20 to 30 years and the time to start is now. Bailey said that Washington County is familiar with watershed issues after taking part in efforts to make improvements to the Lake Darling watershed.
In addition to county governments, cities in the watershed will be asked to participate. The counties soil and water conservation boards will provide help.
Bailey said that better communication between the counties should come from the management authority.
An English River Watershed Management Authority meeting is scheduled at 7 p.m. today, July 9, in the banquet room at Parkside Activity Center (YMCA), 525 13th St., in Wellman. Staff from the Iowa Soybean Association’s Environmental Programs and Services talk about the programs and services they offer, including watershed planning across Iowa.
In other business, Seward said he is preparing a letter to Richmond and Rubio residents. The letter will update residents about the county’s response to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources concerning the plan to bring the communities into compliance with sanitary sewer requirements.
Seward also said the county received a memo from Garden & Associates, the engineering firm that worked with the county on the Richmond and Rubio sewer problems. He said the memo stated that the county owes $200,000. He also said that in March, the Regional Utilities Service Systems (RUSS) said the county will owe $325,000 for pulling out of the public sewer projects. He will find out more when he attends that meeting.
The board’s agenda include an update and discussion with possible action on a draft of an ordinance regarding rescinding of the zoning ordinance. Supervisor Stan Stoops asked the board to table the item until next week.
Board chairman Ron Bennett asked Stoops if the supervisors might vote on the draft ordinance next week.
“I don’t know,” Stoops said. “Possibly.”
In other business, the board:
• acknowledged the county board of health’s decision to add a licensed practical nurse position;
• held a public hearing and acknowledged an animal confinement feeding operation construction project for Dan Greiner, Sec. 5, Brighton Township;
• acknowledged the General Assistance and Veterans Assistance reports for fiscal year 2013;
• approved a County Prosecutor Internship Program Matching Certification. A law student is interning in the county attorney’s office this summer. The certification allows the county to be reimbursed for half of the intern’s wage up to $1,200; and
• approved a bid-letting date for a pavement maintenance patching project of 9 a.m. July 23, as requested by the county engineer.