More on my flooded property. Thanks for the replies.

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by IBD, Dec 20, 2004.

  1. IBD

    IBD Member

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    Thanks to everyone for the replies to my earlier post about my flooded land. Special thanks to Darren and Caballoviejo for the info on the Soil and Water Conservation projects. More info below to fill you in.

    I did not purchase the land I "inherited" it (long story, a costly inheritence).
    The water was here when I arrived, I just did not realize how much I had lost at first. Elder relatives (now deceased) were life tenents on the property and they signed the documents allowing the impoundment on this land. The water covers parts of several tracts of land and divides mine landlocking several acres. In short the elders did not legally own the land. Now years later I'm stuck with significantly less land, a shallow "mud pond" growing into a swamp, the liabilities of a body of water (trespassers) and a group of officials that don't want to do anything.

    I have a lawyer and plenty of documents including as built plans of the structure, contracts and etc. The lawyer says we need past situations to work with. I need to know if any of these structures built with (PL-566) funds have ever been removed. If removal of such a dam has occurred the location and details of its demise would help me.

    Unlike Darren who found contracts with specifics I found vague contracts with improper signatures. I had engineer study the drainage basin and review the available design documents. He found some minor inaccuracies and we have some questions as to the actual need for flood control. Several changes in the drainage area have reduced the need for flood control. A full study would cost tens of thousands of dollars. Also, I found sketches with property lines missing and misdrawn. Darren, where are the soil conservation districts that held meetings to explain the restrictions? Caballoviejo where was the abandoned structure you mentioned?

    Please help. If anyone can find information about these structures being removed by nature or man and not rebuilt.
     
  2. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    "He found some minor inaccuracies and we have some questions as to the actual need for flood control. Several changes in the drainage area have reduced the need for flood control." Can you describe the changes? In most areas additional development often makes it more likely to flood. Did the engineer review downstream gauge information?

    Does LiDAR mapping exist for the watershed? If so I doubt a full study would cost tens of thousands of dollars unless you're dealing with a very large watershed. For comparision, I was quoted $15,000 for rating a watershed of 50,000 acres. Believe it or not you can do the analysis yourself if you have a fast computer with maxed out memory and the same video cards the gamers use. The software is free and can be downloaded from the Army Corps of Engineers' site along with the manuals. Any high school graduate who did well with algebra and trig can learn hydrology and hydraulics through self study. Hydraulics and Hydrology for Storm Water Management by Gribbin is an easy to follow text. With a digital terrain map, analysis that used to take a month can now be done in days.

    The meeting I mentioned to explain restictions was held at a rural church by the soil conservation district for landowners who are involved with the thirteen resevoirs in the Polk Creek watershed in Lewis County. Unless you sue your soil conservation district, I doubt they'll do anything. They don't have to. Even then they'll just reimburse you for the property.

    After the first of the coming year I'll contact an engineer I know with the NRCS to find out if he's heard of any dams being removed. I wouldn't get your hopes up.
     

  3. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The best you can hope for is some $$$$ in compensation if enough 'wrong' things can be proven. Ain't no one going to take out a damn. Just not going to happen. No way, no how. Not in our lifetimes.

    As a farmer, I've worked with this type of govt system long enough. Waterways will not be changed for 1 person. Unless you have something to offer in trade.

    Sorry. Not telling you to drop it, maybe you can get some $$$. But plan for a future with the land soggy......

    --->Paul
     
  4. IBD

    IBD Member

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    "The inaccuracies..." My engineer's calculations showed less water arriving at the impoundment at the time of concentration than the SCS calculations showed and he was able to show why. Unfortunately, the amount was not great enough to make a big deal of it. Culverts under a road just upstream of the impoundment have silted in reducing the flowrate of the storm water from reaching the impoundment at the rate determine by the SCS study (circa 1968). "Changes I mentioned..." Upstream swamping, beaver dams and vegetation growth along with the aforementioned road provide some natural flood control that was not considered in the SCS study. Roads and bridges down stream of the impoundment have been improved and are not likely to be flooded. Some homes have been built upstream but no large developements, roads, parking lot etc. There is less row cropping throughout the entire drainage area and no developement has occurred near the water down stream as far as I see. I fully understand the reasoning for the structures and how they work, but I dislike the idea that I am flooded 24/7 (along with the additional devaluation of my property mentioned in an earlier post) while a few others are saved from flooding a few times each decade. I'm also concerned about the future of this impoundment. Have you seen the condition of the aging impoundments on the NRCS web site and noted how long it's taking to rehabilitate those structures? This impoundment divides my property and I already see evidence of large deposits on my property because it is so shallow. I appears that my property will be somewhat swamped in well before the end of the life of the structure.

    I think my engineer did use the downloads from the Army Corp of Engineers and A computer program called "SedCad". I'm not familiar with the term "LiDAR". Thanks for the additional info (Gribbin and Lewis Co.) and the offer to talk to the NRCS engineer you are aquainted with. I have been told that some of the aging structures have been reviewed with decommissioning of the dams as an alternative. I have read the legislation covering the S & W Conserv. districts and realize that there's not much wiggle room with my problem.

    Thanks to rambler too. You made my day. What do you suggest I offer them?
     
  5. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yea, I know....

    Here in 'my world' we deal with county ditches. minnesota has laws of no net wetlands loss. Can't lose even a 1/2 acre of wetlands, and a wetland does not have to hold water. Technically, if you pull a fence pole and it is damp at the bottom & if a cattail grows within 3 miles or so of this hole, you just created a wetlands that can't be filled in.

    Really. There is no determnation on size, and no wetlands vegitation needs to be actually growing on site, just within a few miles. And the ground only needs to be 'wet' a few days a year.

    Anyhow, if you are a big developer, you can swap some land here & there, move a mound of dirt around, and somehow some little algae & mosquito pond makes up for your 50 acre land development. That's the kind of trade or swap you can make.

    If you're a farmer, you get to pay taxes but can't even make hay on it, you'll harm the cattails....

    My farm has 10 acres that floods, because 50 years ago a neighbor let cattle run in the creek and that mudded it in, raised it. Farmers upstream on the man-made ditch have added more & more water to the ditch every year. When the ditch is cleaned, the DNR does _not_ allow the creek to be touched at all. The man-made part is cleaned & lowered. This allows water to run rapidly to my farm, & pile up there as it can't flow through the now shallow creek. The tile 'draining' my fields runs backwards, actually spewing water from the ditch into my fields for 2 days, before water levels lower again.

    Can't touch that precious natural creek tho. Nope. no way. Would only take 400 feet of cleaning to make the water flow, but nope. Can not do. No way.

    You & I are not part of the plan, & it will be stall & reschedule & so on....

    That is how it goes here. I should not be so negative, & I hope it goes better where you are. :)

    If I understand you right, the water flow is lower because some culverts are partially filled in with dirt now? That would be rather shakey, as they should be assumed to be properly maintained (unlike the neighbor's 'creek', a culvert is manmade & should be cleaned out/ maintained every so often). A filled in culvert is not a permanent change in waterflow. I would think the legal reply will be that those should be assumed to be fully operating, as we should get around to cleaning them out when we get the funds.... And so it will go. Or, it would around here.

    --->Paul
     
  6. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    IBD, LiDAR is a measuring system that uses a laser. The device is used from an airplane to map terrain. The digital elevation map that's produced from the data can be as accurate as 6" with the latest units on the market. Since it's digital, an engineer/hydrologist can create the cross sections needed for the analysis without going to the field with the exception of upstream and downstream cross sections at bridges.

    To compare, a topographic map has contours of twenty feet. If you compare 20' to 6", you get the idea of the difference in accuracy. Your state may have a geographic informations systems center (GIS). They'll know what mapping exists for your area. In West Virginia, the digital maps can usually be downloaded from the internet. Our watershed of 800 sq. mi. was mapped with an older LiDAR device last year that resulted in a digital elevation map of one to two foot accuracy.

    FWIW, the book I mentioned is on eBay.

    Rambler I suggest you look up rock vanes on the internet. Something that puzzles me is why that shallow reach still exists in your creek if more water is coming downstream. I suspect the creek is getting more sediment along with the water. FWIW, a log that ended up in a postion similar to a rock vane would help flush the sediment out of that spot by directing the water to the center of the channel and increasing velocity.
     
  7. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks Darren. As it's the neighbor's property, I hate to mess with it. But I understand your drift. :)

    What happens is the ditch (manmade part) flows water pretty fast. the creek part is very meandering. The creek actually has very steep sides, my land is lower than the neighbor's creek land by a couple feet. The ditch upstream of me has a steeper drop than the creek portion below me.

    This turns my field into a natural catch basin, holding the fast-flowing water from upstream, as it slowly flows away through the creek downstream.

    Mostly that is the natural course of water, & I accept that.

    It is bothersome that the county commisioners allow more & more water to be piped into this ditch, from across the watershed boarders and so on, and clean out the ditch to make the water flow faster. But the DNR does not allow the 'natural creek' to be repaired to it's original depth & condition. (The DNR is the most powerful agency in Minnesota.)

    Perhaps 'normally' my field would flood out once in 10 years. As it is now, it floods out 2-3 times in ten years. Corn can take up to 48 hours of standing in water. We more often get 3 days of standing water now because of the increased ponding.

    No one is willing to lower my property taxes, still supposed to be good farmland - if I get it zoned to poor land, then the DNR comes along & claims it as wetlands & I'm done farming then, they totally control wetlands & all ground around them.

    I fully accept some flooding, but I don't appreciate other people improving their property at my expense, & i'm caught between 2 different govt agencies with different agendas. Any complaining & I should just enroll my farm in CRP, that is the solution to everything..... Just not my type of thing tho......

    It did not help my mood when there was a ditch cleanning meeting, and one of the commisioners wondered why we wanted the headwaters of the ditch cleaned yet again, just did that.... Someone pointed out it was the bottom half of the ditch. Commisioner looked at his map for a minute - and rotated it 180 degrees.

    Sigh.

    It is typical for this ditch to get cleanned in 2 phases - the top phase first, which only makes the water come faster.....

    A lot of factors here, and sorry for hijacking this thread, but perhaps it is somewhat relavent to the topic of dealing with govt agencies....

    --->Paul
     
  8. IBD

    IBD Member

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    Thanks again rambler and Darren. Rambler you're right about the culverts and the maint. We have requested that they be cleaned many times because we expect the road upstream of the impoundment to flood because the culverts are so full. The highway dept does come and clean out the upstream end of the culverts when asked but they can't deal with the large volume of sediment upstream or down stream. There's several acres of beaver dams, sediment and swamp upstream and downstream of the road - all of that mess is just a few hundred feet upstream of the impoundment. Old timers here tell me all most of this area was an open smooth flowing channel forty years ago. That's why my engineer said the changes in the stream have an impact on the potential for flooding but is variable. DID I MENTION IN THE EARLIER POST THAT THE ENGINEER FOUND THAT THE CULVERTS UNDER THE UPSTREAM ROAD WERE TOO SMALL FOR THE FLOW RATE PREDICTED BY THE ORIGINAL SCS STUDY TO PASS UNDER THE ROAD. That is the road will provide some flood protection even if the culverts and the channel were clean and clear. The road should have been protected. My engineer says it's only a matter of time before the conditions are right for the road to flood.

    Darren I'll look into the LiDAR and get that info to my engineer.

    Thanks again to both of you.

    IF ANYBODY ELSE KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT THE REMOVAL OF DAMS BUILT BY THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE (now NRCS) PLEASE CHIME IN.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS
     
  9. caballoviejo

    caballoviejo Well-Known Member

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    This is no longer relevant to IBD's flooding but I went and talked to the NRCS today. Is I remembered, the lake, the levee, the drain, etc. are all mine now. My structure was once part of the "Cypress Creek Drainage District" which had a board of directors and collected monies from landowners that were affected by poor drainage. The District performed maintenance on the lakes and levees, including dredging. The District had easements to perform such maintinance

    That has all dissolved and is no longer in existence. The easements, along with obligation to maintain the structures are gone. Its mine to maintain, alter, or destroy, or not, as I see fit.
     
  10. ed/IL

    ed/IL Well-Known Member

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    caballoviejo great news for you. How big is it? Get it in writing if it is not to much trouble.
     
  11. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    Caballoviejo if I was in your shoes I wouldn't consider it settled until I had talked to the state conservation agency. The district was created under state law not federal law. I'm not sure a federal employee (NRCS) would know the legal issues concerning what may be state property. If the contracts covering the easements stated they'd revert to the original owner if the district was disolved you're home free. If there's no such clause in the contract you may need to do some legal work.

    I met a guy locally who had determined that a parcel had never been deeded. The county commission didn't know what to do when he claimed it. He proved that it had never been patented or deeded by looking at the surveys of the surrounding parcels. He did claim it and receive a deed. You may be in a situation where you need to reclaim ownership if that wasn't covered in the original contract.
     
  12. IBD

    IBD Member

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    Caballoviejo don't count yourself out with relavancy to my problem. You may have the first evidence I've seen on abandonment. The authorities here and an NRCS official in Wash. DC are telling me they have NEVER removed one of the 11,000 or so structures built with PL-566 (and 534?) funds. If you or others have structures that you can "do with as you wish" then some of these dams may be gone. I would like to know the details of the CCD district's demise. Anything you can add will be greatly appreciated.