Douglas County lake associations file notice to appeal decision allowing Garfield to pump waterThe battle against high lake levels continues as associations for several area lakes submitted a notice appealing the Douglas County Board of Commissioners’ July 12 decision to allow Garfield to pump into a wetland area ditch.
By: Wendy Wilson, Alexandria Echo Press
The battle against high lake levels continues as associations for several area lakes submitted a notice appealing the Douglas County Board of Commissioners’ July 12 decision to allow Garfield to pump into a wetland area ditch.
The Cowdry, Taylor, Stony and Union Lakes Association and the Lake Brophy Association jointly filed a notice of appeal August 9 of the commissioners’ resolution allowing Garfield to pump water into County Ditch 1 in LaGrand Township, which flows into lakes Brophy, Stony, Cowdry and the chain of lakes.
The organizations have 30 days from the notice date to provide the appeal. A jury trial was requested.
“The resolution was written very vaguely,” said Peggy Olson, vice president of the Cowdry, Taylor, Stony and Union Lakes association. “There are no restrictions as it stands today.”
Heavy July rainfall spurred the city of Garfield to pump water into Ditch 1 on July 18 using two 8-inch pipes, instead of the one 6-inch pipe that had been previously discussed at a hearing earlier in the month.
Residents on the lakes complained of high water in yards, which they believed were worsened by the pumping.
“After the rainfall, the water rose and it rose and it continued to rise weeks after,” Olson said.
The associations’ notice of appeal states in part:
“[T]he board made erroneous or inadequate findings … the drainage system established improperly impinges upon the use of the appellants’ property or property owned or used by members of the Cowdry, Taylor, Stony and Union Lakes Association and Lake Brophy Association.”
It further alleges the board failed to properly consider legal requirements associated with land usage and environmental concerns.
“We are trying to get the resolution, at a minimum, to have some specifications and limitations as to the authority of the city of Garfield to pump water into Ditch 1,” Olson said.
Water samples were taken from Ditch 1 and another site, according to Olson, but she was not provided with a copy of the results. She estimated that perhaps more than 35 million gallons of stormwater were pumped, but she has not been provided with the official amount.
“I think the resolution would be far more acceptable if the amount of water, size pipe, specified equipment, a permanent station with controlled equipment that would automatically start the pump when water levels reached an agreed level, as specified in the resolution, and would pump only until the set level was again reached,” she said. “It also needs to state that no water, other than excess storm water, will be allowed to be pumped, and the water needs to be tested routinely at both the holding basin and Ditch 1.”
Olson said she has been soliciting funds to pay for an attorney to prepare the appeal.
“It’s hard to get people in these times to cough up this money when it’s simply a mistake,” she said.
Olson may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garfield Mayor Gaye Mounsdon would not comment on the appeal.
Douglas County Commissioners briefly discussed the appeal at the county board meeting Tuesday.
Commissioner Jerry Johnson addressed the possibility that a judge assigned to the case might hypothetically reside on the chain. He asked whether the situation might invoke a conflict of interest.
Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson responded that he believed the judge assigned to the case would bring any conflicts of interest to light.
In other discussions, Drainage and Ag Inspector Tom Anderson and Public Works Director Dave Robley addressed the maintenance of Ditch 9 near Lake Mary.
Routine maintenance on the ditch would continue, they said. Obstructions from the area were removed.
Commissioner Dan Olson commented on the issue of ditch maintenance.
“If we are going to be consistent here one way or the other, we’ve got to start doing it,” he said. “If we’re going to clean them or not clean them – or if we’re going to have water flowing or not flowing… The whole system needs some TLC.”