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A costly fix: JD 12 repairs from previous ditch clean-out estimated at $55,000

WORTHINGTON -- In a meeting of the Judicial Ditch 12 Drainage Authority Tuesday, commissioners from Nobles and Murray counties learned the repairs needed to fix JD 12 Lateral A -- and to level off spoil stockpiles created decades ago -- will cost...

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The Judicial Ditch 12 Lateral A open ditch on the Lloyd and Mary Winter farm in Bloom Township is shown. (Tim Middagh / Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - In a meeting of the Judicial Ditch 12 Drainage Authority Tuesday, commissioners from Nobles and Murray counties learned the repairs needed to fix JD 12 Lateral A - and to level off spoil stockpiles created decades ago - will cost the ditch system an estimated $55,000.

Since the largest share of the ditch is in Nobles County, its members of the ditch system will be responsible for 87.6 percent of the cost, with residents of the system in Murray County will cover the remaining 12.4 percent. According to Commissioner Gene Metz, the balance in the ditch fund falls about $35,000 short of what is needed. That issue will need to be worked out later.

Debris stockpiles and concerns about ditch repairs made two years ago resulted in complaints from property owners Lloyd and Mary Winter last year. Since then, Don Etler, an agricultural drainage engineer with Bolton & Menk, was hired by the drainage authority to evaluate the Lateral A open ditch on the Winter property in Bloom Township.

Etler presented his report Tuesday, detailing 19 different actions that need to be taken on the Winter property to correct issues stemming from prior ditch clean-outs. Among the work to be addressed is regrading areas of the ditch to eliminate ponding water, replacing several sections of old and rusted pipe, adding pipe in a few new areas to reduce the possibility of erosion, smoothing out mounds of spoil stockpiled over the years from clean-outs and reseeding the area.

When asked how long the improvements would last, Etler said some of the work will be a multi-generational fix.

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“Ditches like this have a history of needing maintenance every 25 to 40 years, typically, as they accumulate silt,” Etler shared. “The ditch is pretty stable.”

The plan is to have the work completed this year. Based on the dollar amount, the ditch authority was advised by its legal counsel that contract labor can be hired instead of bidding out the work.

Murray County Commissioner James Jens asked that it be included in the motion that the landowner must complete his portion of the grass seeding project this year.

The ditch authority voted unanimously to approve the repairs to JD 12 as recommended by the engineer’s report from Bolton & Menk.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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