Mark Reedstrom, State’s Attorney, addressed the commissioners about the possibility of repealing the county drainage ordinance. The move would dissolve the drainage board and nullify the drainage permitting process. “We are initiating a conversation about whether or not we should have a drainage ordinance, a board of adjustment, a permitting system, and a board of resolution…” Reedstrom said. “Most of the counties in our area have recognized that it’s risky business to manage water rights and drainage.” He pointed to the fact most counties that had drainage ordinances and/or drainage boards have repealed them.
“There are pros and cons to having a drainage board,” Reedstrom said. “But the way I see it, the cons outweigh the pros.” “When the system was put in place, it set up the counties for massive liability.” With the commission acting as a drainage board, the county inevitably becomes involved in lawsuits. “These get time consuming and costly,” he said. “Which is the biggest con I can describe.” He said a plus for keeping the drainage board is the commission is made aware when issues arise and what citizens are doing with drainage throughout the county.
The group discussed the legislature’s enactment of a statewide mediation system as an alternate arbiter for drainage disputes. When issues arise between parties, this mediation system helps them resolve the issues and come to agreements without going to court or getting the commission involved. Also, using the mediation system is inexpensive. “Even without a drainage ordinance, people cannot just go out and do whatever they want to do. They still have laws to follow,” Reedstrom said. “And they can still resort to the court system if they want to.”
“To be honest, I am tired of mediating drainage issues,” stated board chairman Doug Stengel. “I am thinking that maybe with this new mediation board, now is the time to get away from this and go through with the repeal.”
If the commission repeals the drainage ordinance, it will most likely devise a method to keep a record of drainage projects in the county. No action was taken.
The next regular meeting of the county commissioners is set for Tuesday, October 4, at 8 a.m. in the county commissioner board room of the Grant County Courthouse.