Grafton City Council briefed on water issues
GRAFTON – Water detention, drainage and flooding were all topics of discussion Monday at the regular meeting of Grafton’s City Council at city hall.
Engineers Gregg Thielman and Zach Herman from the Houston Engineering firm in Fargo were on hand to give a presentation on two water projects that could have an impact on the City of Grafton.
The first was the Walsh County Drain 87/Mcleod drain project. The second was the Park River Watershed Comprehensive Detention Plan.
Drain 87/McLeod Drain
The Walsh County Water Resource Board (WCWRB) is moving ahead with plans to combine the McLeod drain which runs west to east south of Grafton and the current Drain 87 which runs west to east south of the McLeod drain. The McLeod Drain currently empties into the Park River near Fair Oaks Golf Course. Water from Drain 87 currently flows south.
Under the new proposed plan for Drain 87, water from the McLeod drain and Drain 87 would be channeled into the Park River approximately 1 ½ miles east of the golf course.
A concern of city officials, including Grafton mayor Chris West, is the volume of water the new combined drain would carry.
The McLeod Drain currently drains water from 17.2 square miles of land. Drain 87 moves water off of 37.3 square miles of land.
That means during a spring flood or any significant rain event, water draining from 54.5 square miles of farmland (three times the current amount) will be draining only 1 ½ miles further east of the city of Grafton than it currently does.
The Houston engineers said there currently isn’t a study that models where the water would go should a major flood event occur. The proposed new drain is designed to drain farmland in the event of a normal rain event, not a heavy sustained rain like parts of the region suffered through this spring.
West told those assembled Monday that Grafton already has a handle on how the water moves now during spring flood events. He’s concerned what changes will take place when the new drain is completed.
Walsh County Water Resource Board Chairman Larry Tanke told West and city council members that the new Drain 87 isn’t designed to protect the City of Grafton and isn’t designed to protect the golf course just east of the city.
The Houston engineers said the benefit of the new drain is water from Drain 87 should get to the Park River ahead of the water to the west of the city, primarily the North Branch of the Park River. They said the other benefit is that water will drain farther east of the city.
Water detention plan
Tanke said the plan that would be of more benefit to Grafton and those in the North Branch of the Park River watershed would be the Park River Watershed Comprehensive Detention Plan (PRWCDP).
Currently there are no control structures on the North Branch of the Park River or on Cart Creek which flooded the City of Crystal this spring. Cart Creek flows through Crystal and enters the North Branch of the Park River near Hoople.
Herman said Houston Engineering is currently using LiDAR information to find areas to store runoff from a significant rain event.
Herman said the Army Corps of Engineers is currently working on a rainfall runoff model to help determine water storage sites. That model should be done in about two months.
Meetings have been taking place since January with members of the Walsh, Pembina and Cavalier county water resource boards as well as representatives from the cities of Grafton, Hoople and Crystal. A joint powers agreement between those entities is in the works to show solidarity that could be needed to get federal and state money to fund such a project.
The project is currently early in the second phase of a four phase project, with the fourth phase being construction of control structures.
In other business the council
• Upon recommendation of the Ways and Means Committee the council passed two motions. The first was to accept the bid from Sterling Carpet One in Grand Forks to replace exterior doors and frames at Carnegie Regional Library and exterior doors at the Grafton Armory. The second was to reimburse former 12th Street Bowl owners Brad and Sherrie Nelson for a portion of their prorated liquor license fee in the amount of $141.70.
• Upon recommendation from the Public Utilities Committee passed several motions including an agreement to renew Grafton’s power sales agreement with the Northern Municipal Power Agency through 2055; a motion to approve the supplemental engineering agreement with Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson (KLJ) for the Griggs Avenue/Sixth Street project; a motion to accept a TAP grant to overlay the bike path along School Road and Fifth Street; a motion to approve a preliminary engineering agreement with KLJ for the School Road/Fifth Street bike path overlay, payable with economic development funds; a motion to approve a bid from Strata for the Leistikow Park road project, contingent on Park Board approval; and a motion to approve the application from Darryl Collette to close Eighth Street between the railroad tracks and Stephen Avenue for one week around the first week of September from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for harvest.