Mower board recommends larger Cedar River watershed
By Chelsey Perkins
The Mower County Board decided Wednesday that the Cedar River watershed district should include areas south of Austin to the Iowa border.
Board members voted 3-2 in favor of recommending that the areas south of Austin be included along with a larger area north of Austin in the watershed district in their petition to the state's Board of Water and Soil Resources.
Ray Tucker, 2nd District board member, and David Hillier, 3rd District board member, voted against the motion. Their districts lie south of Austin.
Hillier said that he is a proponent of going north with the district because watershed to the south never enters Austin.
"This watershed district is meant for flood prevention in the city," he said.
A watershed district is a special government entity that is meant to control water in natural watershed areas. The districts have the power to tax within their jurisdictions, which do not usually follow political boundaries, for use only on watershed management.
Hillier also is concerned that it would be difficult to coordinate with surrounding watershed districts whose primary focus, he said, is agriculture and drainage issues, not flooding.
Garry Ellingson, 5th District, said that in addition to improving flooding conditions, the project is meant to improve water quality.
Board member Dick Lang, a proponent of including areas south of Austin, said that he believes the larger map would encompass the problem. The proposed district includes areas in Mower, Dodge, Steele and Freeborn counties and extends south to the border shared by Minnesota and Iowa.
This proposal by the board, which also includes a recommendation for seven board members on the watershed board, will now go on to the Board of Water and Soil Resources, which will make the final decision on which areas the district will include.