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Torbert: EPA seeks control of drainage

April 4, 2014
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville News

Could farmers in the future have to get permission from the Environmental Protection Agency to build a farm pond?

That's one scenario the executive director of the Iowa Drainage Association painted for the Emmet County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

At this week's board meeting, Torbert said that the EPA is trying to bring all waters under its jurisdiction - including farm ponds. Should that happen, counties would have to go to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for drainage permits.

While the EPA's efforts probably won't happen this year, Torbert said the agency will likely get sued - by someone - since it faces adversaries both from agriculture and environmental groups.

In another drainage-related matter, Torbert also noted a Supreme Court decision that railroads won't have the special protections they've had in the past.

All in all, though, Torbert said relationships have improved between the IDDA and railroads.

"Right now I feel that we have what is a pretty positive relationship with railroads."

Torbert also discussed state drainage legislation:

n Senate File 2191 - Raises drainage warrants from $1,000 to $5,000 that counties can issue.

n Senate File 2273 - Changes requirements for supervisor eligibility in trustee districts. The new legislation still requires that trustees be landowners.

n House File 2344 - Provides for mergers, the liability of trustees, bidding requirements, the annexation of land and authorizing the imposition of assessments upon affected landowners.



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