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Drainage Authority grants request for new outlet into Judicial Ditch 76

WORTHINGTON — Alba Grain Inc. of rural Brewster will be allowed to drain 82 acres of land into Judicial Ditch 76 and will finally be assessed for an additional 122 acres of land that hasn’t paid into the ditch authority since the ditch was established about 100 years ago.

During a public hearing Tuesday afternoon of the Drainage Authority (including three Nobles County Commissioners and two Jackson County Commissioners), no one spoke in opposition to the requested outlet. Instead, one other farmer in the area asked how he, too, could drain land to J.D. 76.

Bill Brunk of rural Brewster said he had land that drains into Ditch 44 and Ditch 76.

“That property is a little wet right now, and Jack Creek doesn’t take the water like everybody else’s water,” Brunk said. “How deep do they have to dig to get the 44 line to run into the 76 system? If one does it, there’s going to be a whole list of us that would like to go to 76 to get rid of the water in a hurry.”

Kurt Deter, an attorney from Rinke-Noonan law firm of St. Cloud representing Alba Grain and its president, Horace Thompson, replied that anyone who wants to petition for an outlet can do so.

“There is the capacity in 76,” Deter said.

Farther upstream in the ditch system, James Voss of rural Brewster asked if the additional outlet would slow water down for others already on the line.

“I don’t believe it will have any impact upstream,” replied Deter, echoing the words of Jackson County Drainage Supervisor Dave Macek earlier in the meeting.

Macek said Jackson County has cleaned out the upper half of the ditch system, and said there is “plenty of fall” in the ditch to be able to handle the extra water.

“In my opinion — and I’m not an engineer — I’m going to say there are not a lot of problems on Judicial Ditch 76,” Macek said. “It should be able to handle that extra 82 acres.”

The 82 acres, located in Section 9, Alba Township, Jackson County, currently drain to Ditch 44. With tiling, however, the subsurface water can be directed to J.D. 76. Alba Grain will continue to pay into the Ditch 44 account, as some surface water is expected to still flow into Ditch 44.

Deter said the petition has no problem paying into both ditch authorities, but wanted to pay their fair share into J.D. 76 for the entire 204-plus acres of land.

“One hundred years ago they made a mistake on the 122 acres, and we’re just trying to get that straightened out,” Deter said.

Approval of the outlet into J.D. 76 will not result in any additional fees assessed to other property owners in the ditch system, he added.

“Any work done on this will be done privately,” said Deter. “This is just a petition for the outlet.”

After unanimous approval of the outlet, the Drainage Authority moved to continue the meeting to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 16, at which time a recommendation will be brought forth to set the one-time franchise fee, as well as the annual fees as a benefiting property owner in the ditch system, to be paid by Alba Grain.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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