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Watershed dams prevent flooding

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Engineer Frank Young believes dams being built in the county are preventing catastrophic floods.

"I think the dams have definitely shown we've helped with the flood amounts," he told the members and friends at the annual Marmaton Watershed Joint District No. 102 meeting on Jan. 17.

Young is contracting officer for the district.

In early spring 2012, "we knocked elevation off a flood in Fort Scott. The Geologic Survey people had predicted a flood. It was three to three-and-a-half feet lower than predicted," he said.

Bob Love, treasurer of the group, said, "we've built three dam structures in the last two years."

Acknowledging they are fortunate that they have landowners who want dams built on their sites, he said, "a lot of districts don't have this, but we have people who want to build sites."

Young spoke of the groups goals.

"They are to reduce flooding on the Marmaton River, improve the environment by reducing water pollution and additionally improve the quality of life.

"We are two dams ahead of our funding ... You have a good bunch of leaders in this county ... The state conservation commission, the rural water district, the soil conservation district and the Bourbon County Commission. It's getting hard to find people to be on these committees," Young said.

President of the watershed district Duane Neil thanked the board members for their diligence and acknowledged that Young, who is an engineer with Agricultural Engineering Associates in Uniontown, "is part of the reason we are able to get funded. Frank is a dedicated engineer. Agricultural Engineering and Frank are ... the main reasons we have been successful in applying for these dams."

The district has a five-year plan in which they will build eight sites.

"The state only pays 70 percent up to $120,000 on each project; the district has to fund the rest. We keep pushing ahead before they change the rules on us," Young said. "The landowners do contribute 5 percent of the total cost, plus they donate the land."

Three projects were completed in 2012.

Site E-2 was constructed last year on land owned by the Shepard Trust, just north of U.S. Highway 54, three miles east of Uniontown. The site is in a large native grassland with tame grass pasture and will function as the primary water source for the landowner, as well as a flood protection structure. Final seeding of that project was in December 2012.

The site received state cost-share money and was constructed with district, landowner and state funds. "It hasn't filled up (with water) yet," said Young.

The Thomas Site is southwest of the Fort Scott Airport on Hackberry Road, west of Fort Scott Lake. Seeding and fencing on that structure was completed in December 2012. This site was constructed with district and landowner funds and is full of water, Young told the group.

Site I-2 was a fencing project. It was constructed in 1992 and had shown deterioration of the shoreline from high usage of the cattle in the pasture. In order to improve the water quality and prolong the life of the structure, the watershed board approached the owner and reached a cost-share agreement to fence off the water area and the stream channel below the dam, allowing the grass to re-establish cover. This project was constructed with district and landowner funds.

A site called Site I-1B, which is still under construction, located on the Blythe Ranch property in the Hinton Creek drainage area, six miles south and three miles west of Uniontown. Current activity includes purchase of the pipes and other materials. Earthwork will begin in 30-60 days, depending on the weather. The project is less than 5 percent complete to date and will be constructed with district, landowner and state funds.

There are two proposed sites for 2013.

Site B-4 is also located on the Blythe Ranch property, in the Wolf Pen Creek drainage area, just above Bourbon-Allen County State Fishing Lake. The site has all permits from the Corps of Engineers and the Kansas State Division of Water Resources and is due to be funded May 1. Once funding is obtained, the project will be put our for bids. This site will be constructed with district, landowner and state funds.

The William Robinson site is located in Allen County, adjacent to the Marmaton River, approximately six miles south and three and a half miles east of Moran. All permits have been received and it also is due to be put out for bids in the spring of this year. This site will be constructed with district, landowner and state funds.

On the horizon are the Hinton Creek drainage area, six and a half miles south and two and a half miles west of Uniontown; the Henry Ericson site, one mile south and one mile west of Hiattville; and a site on an unnamed tributary of the Marmaton, five miles south and two and a half miles east of Uniontown.

Several other potential sites were evaluated as potential dam sites at the request of landowners and are under consideration.

The district has a Marmaton Watershed Restoration Protection Strategy project, the goal of which is to implement best management practices in targeted areas of the watershed.

Money is still available for projects. Any land in the targeted areas of the watershed is eligible for funding. Applications are available at local conservation district offices and on the Watershed Restoration Protection Strategy (WRAPS) website and will be accepted until Feb. 4.



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