After seven years of near silence, the Logan County Water Conservancy District met with Logan County Commissioners during their Dec. 5 work session for what can best be described as a “long overdue” update.
Brad McCloud (LCWCD) told commissioners that the meeting was both an opportunity to update commissioners on the mission of the organization and to re-set the district’s priorities moving forward. One county leader told McCloud that the LCWCD’s independence has led to both county officials and the public feeling estranged from the organization.
McCloud told the group that the district has an obligation to follow through on its mission by participating in discussion and reaching out to form partnerships by extending “the olive branch.”
While the water district was founded in 2000 primarily to develop projects to reduce potential damage caused by flooding from Pawnee Creek, according to McCloud, they are currently looking at multiple ways to mitigate flooding throughout the county.
With almost $1 million in the current budget, McCloud said the district is exploring new ways to invest in flood mitigation and use the tax money in their coffers to make a more immediate impact.
“For next year’s budget we’re looking at putting from six to seven hundred thousand dollars into local projects that can benefit citizens of Logan County, throughout the county and in terms of smaller projects,” McCloud said.
The first LCWCD public input meeting held in March of 2011 resulted in the Pawnee Creek Flood Control Project (Phase I) and then the Pawnee Creek Flood Alternatives Analysis Report in August 2016. The Highway 6 Bridge and Railroad Clean out project was also initiated but later dropped due to costs and lack of effectiveness.
The most favorable project at that time was the flood control dam at Pawnee Pass followed by a certified flood levees and channel improvement system which would serve as a secondary alternative if a fatal flaw is encountered with the Pawnee Pass Dam site.
According to Commissioner Donaldson, there was considerable resistance toward the proposed Pawnee Dam site at the 2011 meeting.
Current board member Tom Westfall said the new board is aware of the concerns with the proposed dam which would take years to complete due to the back log of federal projects. He said while dam is still under consideration, the current focus is on projects within the county that could make an immediate difference.
McCloud echoed Westfall’s comments by saying that while the district’s initial work is to be applauded; the current board is looking to broaden their efforts beyond the Pawnee Creek to include the Sand Creek and South Platte River basins as well as other areas of concern.
According to McCloud, the LCWCD wants to take “smaller bites out of the elephant” by developing collaborative partnerships aimed at working on multi-purpose flood control projects while continuing to pursue the long term Pawnee Pass Dam project.
Going forward, the LCWCD recommended meeting on a quarterly basis with Logan County Commissioners and hosting another public meeting to be held in the first part of 2018 with the purpose of re-engaging the public.
“I think the more oversight that is out there in terms of the public, the more good that we’re going to do,” Westfall said, “I think not having any oversight or even public input isn’t very helpful.”
Lisa Young: 970-526-9281, firstname.lastname@example.org