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Blockage affects both ditch and river

December 17, 2007

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The blockage in Meeker County Ditch 47 is more than a problem for property owners along the ditch. The Middle Fork of the Crow River runs through the ditch and it also is blocked.

That is why the Crow River Watershed is paying 75 percent of the cost of removing the pile of trees blocking the ditch and repairing the riverbank.

In the meantime, Meeker County Board of Commissioners accepted the lowest quote, $11,855, Tuesday from Landwehr Construction of St. Cloud, so the blockage, which prevents farmland from draining, can be removed and the ditch repaired during the winter.

A pile of trees clogged up the ditch near the west county line. The clog forced the water to carve out a 30-foot deep gouge in the banks of the ditch, which also is the Middle Fork of the Crow River.

The Middle Fork of the Crow River flows into the North Fork at Manannah. The north fork flows east across Meeker and Wright counties to the Delano area, where it joins the South Fork of the Crow River. The Crow River Watershed board has set aside about $15,000 for the repairs, according to Paul Virnig, county administrator.

The other two quotes received were $13,520, from Geislinger and Sons of Watkins, and $21,150, from Gerald Whitcomb Excavators of Litchfield. The commissioners expressed surprise in the difference between Landwehr’s quote for clearing and grubbing the ditch for $1,200, and Geislinger’s quote of $4,600 and Whitcomb’s quote of $8,000.

County Engineer Ron Mortensen said he observed Landwehr at work in Kingston. The company used an excavator with a third arm. It’s possible Landwehr has special equipment that allows it to grub out the pile of trees in the ditch less expensively than those using standard equipment, he said.

After the ditch and river bank are repaired, the costs not covered by the Crow River Watershed will be assessed to the benefitted property owners along the ditch.

In other business, on Dec. 6 Mark Geyer officially sold 265 acres of his land southwest of Darwin to the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota to become Greenleaf Lake Recreation Area.