Archived Story

County OKs plan to alleviate Little McDonald, area lake flooding [UPDATED]

Published 9:45am Wednesday, December 21, 2011 Updated 11:46am Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Residents of Little McDonald Lake and area lakes, west of Perham, look forward to getting some relief from high water in 2012. Assisting in this effort on Tuesday was the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners.

At the urging of Commissioner Doug Huebsch who represents the Perham area, the county board voted to move along the environmental process more quickly than usual. The board is supporting the Little McDonald, Kerbs and Paul Lakes Improvement District (LID) in its efforts to construct an outlet to County Ditch 25 to alleviate the high water problems.

“Delaying even by one week sets this project behind schedule,” said Huebsch. “The lake property owners need our help.”

A petition for the use of Otter Tail County Drainage System No. 25 as an outlet for Little McDonald, Kerbs and Paul lakes was filed earlier this year with the Otter Tail County Drainage Authority. Little McDonald, Kerbs and Paul lakes are landlocked lakes and do not have surface outlets within the recorded range of lake levels.

On Tuesday, County Land and Resource Director Bill Kalar recommended that the county board forward an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) to the state Environmental Quality Board (EQB) for further review. The board voted unanimously to do this.

Next, after the initial EQB review, will be a 30-day public comment period. After that will come involvement from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), DNR, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local entities such as townships.

“Right-of-way permits also will take a lot of work,” said Kalar, “before this outlet project can get underway.”

The proposed outlet route extends in a southwesterly direction. Water would discharge from Little McDonald Lake to Berger Lake, in turn flowing through Big McDonald, Round, Star, Dead, Walker and Otter Tail lakes. Then the water would flow into the Otter Tail River.

An existing 24-inch diameter pipe crossing under Highway 34 will be used to carry water flow from Rusch Lake to Little McDonald. Rusch Lake is a small lake, not to be confused with the much larger Rush Lake south of Perham.

The project also will include control structures, channels and conduits.

The Board of Little McDonald, Kerbs, and Paul Lake Improvement District secured the services of Houston Engineering to determine and design the outlet route that was feasible within the capacity of Otter Tail County Ditch No. 25.

Landowners along Ditch 25 have been contacted about the outlet proposal. Those affected downstream, such as lakeshore owners at Star Lake and Dead Lake, are part of the discussions.

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