Orton Slough

A culvert near County Road K45 and 250th Street north of Salix, Iowa, drains excess water from the Orton Slough is shown Jan. 3. The Woodbury County Board on Tuesday killed a project to improve drainage due to rising costs.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal file

SIOUX CITY | Woodbury County won't receive state money for a possible project that could solve drainage problems between Sergeant Bluff and Salix.

The county is researching whether to proceed with improvements to the Orton Slough Drainage District, an area where water runoff is less than ideal due to extremely flat topography. The area has been prone to flooding from rains.

Woodbury County Engineer Mark Nahra on Tuesday said the county won't receive a $300,000 state grant to pay for drainage improvements. Earlier this year, the county applied for a Watershed Improvement Review Board grant. Funds are distributed to projects that directly impact the state's water quality.

The County Board, which acts as trustee for the district, has spent $26,696 for solutions drafted by a consultant, I&S Group, of Storm Lake, Iowa. Possible solutions include placing more underground drainage piping in the area or excavating an open ditch to carry the water south to Brown's Lake, near Salix.

Depending upon which plan is picked, property owners would have to share costs of between $432,224 and $787,786. The state grant would have helped offset the total cost.

The process was begun in 2013 because some landowners voiced support for repairs. The county last month sent a survey to Orton Slough landowners to determine their level of interest.

Ten landowners, owning a combined 1,084 acres, said they support the county plan. Four, owning 252 acres, said they didn't support the improvements. Nineteen property owners, owning a combined 877 acres, didn't respond to the survey.

Board Chairman George Boykin, of Sioux City, said consideration should be given to people who live outside the district as well. A June 4 meeting is scheduled in Salix to present the various options.

If the plan is approved, the board will assess the costs to property owners based on the percentage of benefit they receive. Landowners can pay their assessments over several years. 

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County and education reporter

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