Dakota County farmers concerned about drainage ditch, field flooding
Recent record, or near-record, rainfall pushed several Siouxland rivers out of the banks, into home, businesses, and farms. But, some people dealing with flooded fields said the issue is something that could have been prevented by one government body.
Dykes containing Pigeon Creek are supposed to help farmers maintain their land, not hurt them.
"We can build various structures with levees and reservoirs and things like that, but ultimately we can't control the amount of rain that one particular area gets," PMNRD General Manager John Winkler said. But, some feel Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District, also known as PMNRD, hasn't been taking responsibility of their levees. "I feel like we've held up our part of the deal. We pay a ditch tax to these guys and in turn, that's all we ask for is maintenance on the dyke," Homer, Nebraska Farmer Ken Baker said. "The excess funds for a project, the NRD pledged to contribute. However, in this case the NRD has not met their obligations on an annual basis," PMNRD Director Scott Japp said.
But, those with the PMNRD said they only have a certain amount of money to work with, and they've already gone above and beyond available funds just for repairs on these dykes.
"Right now, the district only receives about $50,000 a year from assessments that are made against the property owners in that particular district to maintain that levee system. The NRD has been carrying this particular area with general fund money and will continue to do so," Winkler said. "I believe approximately 2,000 acres have been lost in this most recent levee break," Japp said.
Area 1 Director for the PMNRD Scott Japp represents landowners who live in this area. He said the flooding has caused a lot of harm to farmers. "Somewhere of the neighborhood of $2-million in crop damage, which should have been avoided if the levee was properly maintained," Japp said. "I don't know how bad it's gotta be, or how bad it's gotta get before they will realize that they just need to dredge out the dyke," Baker said. Ken Baker said he's seen many floods over the years, but this is the worst yet. He even went down to the state capitol to testify before a subcommittee about the problem last year. At this point he feels the PMNRD has waited too long to dredge the dyke. "It's going to be quite the job because the dyke is so full of sediment that it's going to be a bigger job now. The dyke is to the point where it's almost in disrepair," Baker said. "Dredging would help. Now, would dredging be the end all? No not at all," Winkler said.
PMNRD leaders said even though they don't have enough funds to dredge Pigeon Creek, they will continue to spend resources and manpower, to fix the levee break. But, Baker and Japp said that won't be enough and they want more to be done.
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