Kelly Zimmerman explained a plan for an outlet on County Ditch 15 at the Stevens County Board of Commissioners meeting. (Photo: Marshall Hoffman)

A petition to install an outlet on the problematic County Ditch 15 system brought by landowner Kelly Zimmerman was denied by the Stevens County Board of Commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. The ditch system is plagued by frequent flooding with few good options for getting the water to flow elsewhere. Zimmerman detailed a project that he had hoped would take subsurface water and put it in the ditch during low flow times.

“Our hope is it’s a win-win situation. It helps people, our neighbors to the east and north, where this water would go,” said Zimmerman. “If we pumped it that way, it would go into Mud Lake. It would be quite a few miles before it would actually join the same place. And it would add 120 acres more to the ditch system to share the cost of maintenance.”

But neighboring farmer Jeff Shedler said he did not like the idea for the “struggling” ditch system as it would put new water into the system that would, by his calculations, end up in his property.

“Theoretically, it this pump is running and that culvert is wet, he could just as well put it on my yard for as much good as it’s gonna do me,” said Shedler. “‘Cause it’s just gonna back up onto me.”

In the end, the denial of the petition came with a caveat from the Commissioners, which Board Chair Jeanne Ennen explained to the landowners.

“The caveat is because we don’t like to approve a petition that’s going to move water from one watershed to another,” said Ennen.

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