The status of declaratory judgment was the main topic during the March 14 Clarke County Reservoir Commission (CCRC) meeting.
Recently, notices were sent out to people whose land will be affected by the CCRC’s Squaw Creek Watershed project.
“The notice for the folks says, essentially, that they need to respond to the clerk within 20 days and encourages them to seek legal counsel, and all that,” said Dave Beck, project coordinator for the CCRC.
The ongoing Squaw Creek Watershed project could provide a water supply for Osceola and SIRWA with an 816-acre lake, which could provide 2.2 million gallons of water per day.
The total project cost for the reservoir in the CCRC Squaw Creek Watershed is estimated at $37.6 million. Funding the project includes many sources, especially local-option sales and services tax (LOSST).
Beck said one common question he’s received concerns several people who had understood the project would impact 10 of their acres, but the notice lists a 40-acre tract.
Beck said he addressed the issue with the CCRC’s attorney.
“He said, ‘Under the law, we have to name that 40 acres because it’s impacted. Even though, say, we need to acquire 10 acres, that impacts the other 30 acres of that 40 acres under Iowa law,’” Beck said. “So, that’s part of the reason we went and used the deed descriptions for this listing and all.”
Beck said it’s important to emphasize the “may acquire” wording in the notice.
“While it lists 40 acres, in my example, what we need to acquire is that 10 acres that the law says we can, you know, is the minimum needed for the water supply,” he said.
According to Beck, the CCRC is seeking the right to exercise the land acquisition up to and including eminent domain under the state of Iowa law.
A comment was made from an audience member about the CCRC needing to reassure people they’re not going to “steal” anybody’s land.
“We never have,” Beck said. “Everybody will be paid, yes. We’re just following the state law … but, you should always seek your own legal counsel because I’m not qualified to give it. Plus, it would be a conflict.”
In other CCRC news, Harold Allen Jr., CCRC representative from the city of Woodburn, said he contacted the mayor and city clerk of Woodburn to “tentatively” submit his resignation from the reservoir commission.
“That’s subject to their acquiring someone to take my place, and I’m not going to just walk out the door and be away,” Allen said. “But, anyway, that’s in the wind right now.”
As for the current drought in Clarke County, Osceola Water Superintendent Brandon Patterson was asked how many inches below the spillway West Lake was. The lake is the current water source for the city of Osceola and Southern Iowa Rural Water Association (SIRWA).
Patterson said with the recent frost on the ground and rain, the water level has been raised 10 inches, which puts it at 52.5 inches below the spillway.
Patterson said he went to a meeting March 13 and depleting water levels was discussed.
“They said if we got seven more storms like we did the last one ... it would get us out of the drought,” he said. “So, we’re not out of the woods, but we’re going up.”