Woodbury County reviews drainage options for Orton Slough - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Woodbury County reviews drainage options for Orton Slough

Driving down the road, you may not even notice it, but one drain leads to a 20-inch tile that plays an important role for landowners in the Orton Slough Drainage District.

"All of the drainage for roughly 2,300 acres comes through behind us here, crosses Old Highway 75 and the railroad, and ends up going in to a tile intake out in the middle of a private property owners field," Woodbury County Engineer Mark Nahra said.

Nahra said the structure the fields drain through now is is not up to agricultural standards and has caused problems in the past.

"It's very slow getting away. If you have a big rainfall event, we had 10 inches of rain in 21 days in 2011 ahead of the flood, and it took over four weeks for the ground around here to completely drain going through that little tile," Nahra said.

That's why several options are being reviewed by the county, but the landowners in the Orton Slough District, which lies between Salix and Sergeant Bluff from the south to the north, and Port Neal Road to Old Highway 75, from the west to the east, will be paying for the upgrade.

Nahra said there are three options the supervisors are reviewing for the area.

The first option would be to create an open ditch where the current intake is. This would cost about $430,000.

Nahra said the second option would be to utilize the current pipe and put one about double the size next to it, so the two of them work as a team carrying the water away at the same capacity. That's about a $600,000 project.

And, the third option would be to replace the current tile with a 60-inch tile. That would run landowners more than $780,000.

"The goal of this project is to improve drainage to meet current drainage standards," Nahra said.

The county supervisors act as trustees for this project. They said there's more to look at than price. One of the main concerns with the drainage project is how it will impact Browns Lake.

"Right now, we're trying to figure out how do we stop the contaminants, sediments, and all that stuff, before it gets to Browns Lake and dumps it," Supervisor David Tripp said.

Browns Lake is where the water goes once it makes its way through the drain and the board is taking steps to make sure it preserves the environment.

"The Board has applied for a wetlands improvement grant to help filter off some of the sediments before they get in," Nahra said.

"The residents down here and the trustees are concerned about the drainage into Browns Lake. We aren't going to pollute that lake anymore than it is right now," Woodbury County Chairman George Boykin said.

The board has postponed a meeting scheduled for Wednesday night in Salix. They said they need more time and more answers.

Right now, there has been no set date for their information meeting.

But, KTIV was notified about a petition being circulated to Salix and Browns Lake Residents asking them to "Save Browns Lake from the Orton Slough District Drainage Project."

Supervisors said they want to hear from landowners who are affected by the project before they make any decisions and postponing the informational meeting will give them more time to get in touch with these people. 

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