By George Thompson, Reporter and Farmer
A handful of area farmers convinced the Day County Commission that requiring notices before drain tiling is a step in the wrong direction.
They want the county to stay out of drainage/tiling regulation, maintaining it would only lead to the county becoming a third party in landowner lawsuits.
Last month, the commission talked about requiring some type of notification system between landowners who plan to tile and the county. In most cases this notice would be nonbinding with the county neither approving nor denying the tiling, unless it would affect a county road. Currently, Day County and the state have no laws regulating drain tiling.
The commissioners worry that loosened provisions in the next farm bill have fewer incentives for well-planned drain tiling and may in fact open the floodgates even further.
The commissioners have been troubled that much of Day County is in a closed basin and that neighboring or downstream landowners don’t find out what’s going on until the work starts.
Up until recently, most producers who were eligible for farm subsidies worked through NRCS on drain tile projects to assure they met program guidelines and maintained their crop payments. However, one downside to this program was that NRCS’s privacy policies preclude the agency from disclosing any information about a tiling project to an outside party. That meant the only option available to a third party to stop drain tile water from entering their land was to file a lawsuit.
The landowners say tiling is not necessarily drainage and may in fact be better for the land than ditching or natural flow. They allege water quality is better with tile and urged the board not to proceed with their plan, especially now that a state task force is studying water management.
The board agreed to drop the idea.
The next Day County Commissioners meeting is Sept. 3 at 8 a.m.