On Tuesday, Watonwan County agreed to pay $2,688.02 for unauthorized repairs made on Judicial Ditch 12 in Adrian.
Renter Mark Evers of Comfrey went through with repairing a section of the 12" tile main with the permission of Cottonwood Commissioner Normal Holmen. Holmen authorized the repairs because a landowner upstream had informed him of blockage and lack-of-water-flow issues in Cottonwood. He wasn't aware of the washouts in Watonwan needing repair.
"I'll take the blame," he said. "I didn't give it a thought. I was responding to the need in Cottonwood County. There was water backing up. I needed to respond to the situation."
Before going to Holmen for authorization, Evers went to Public Works Director Teal Spellman. He told her a section of the 12" tile main was a single wall perforated pipe, and he wanted to replace it with a dual walled smooth pipe.
"He spoke about nothing being physically wrong with the section of the pipe, and that the water was still flowing," said Spellman. "But that the flow of the single-walled perforated pipe was less than that of a dual walled smooth pipe."
The Public Works Department, as a drainage authority, couldn't complete the work because it was considered an "improvement" to the ditch system rather than a repair.
Evers understood it would take Watonwan two years to address the tile main because they were backed up. "I stood there and looked at 15-foot holes, and what was I going to do?" said Evers. "We've got hundreds of acres uphill from it that's drowning out."
"I was never made aware of washouts," said Spellman.
The Public Works Department didn't hear more from Evers or anyone else about the ditch system until the department received two invoices totaling $2,688.02 from Nickel Construction of Mt. Lake for "emergency repairs."
"It was just a lot of misunderstanding and confusion about this whole thing," said Commissioner Raymond Gustafson.
Cottonwood approved the $9,678.23 invoice for the tile replacement, and Watonwan covered the washout repairs.