Commissioners discuss farmers concerns with contractor dumping pit water

Dawn Rye | Writer

During last week’s Turner County commissioners meeting the dumping of pit water from Knodel Contractor’s gravel pit was discussed. Commissioner Tony Ciampa mentioned several farmers brought it to his attention that Knodel’s pit water is flooding their fields.
Ciampa explained Kelly Knodel is draining pit water to his slough with two pumps. He noted when Knodel started this project; he first dug ditches from the corner of the pit to his slough on the south end of the property.
Ciampa said Knodel applied for a permit on Monday, April 6 and DENR received the application on Thursday, April 9. According to Ciampa, Knodel assumed since he applied for the permit, he would automatically receive the permit. Ciampa noted even after he explained to Knodel how the permit process works, Knodel’s response was “I don’t care and I sent the paperwork in and it’s up to the state to get me the permit. The state never got me the permit so, therefore, I either do have a permit, or I don’t have a permit. I’m going to continue to pump.”
Ciampa believes Knodel is pumping because he has material to be delivered to the Highway 18 project.
Highway Superintendent Kent Austin explained he wasn’t sure if the DENR (Department of Environment of Natural Resources) was worried about stepping on toes since Highway 18 is a state project. He said Knodel was approved for a temporary permit.
Commissioner Mick Miller asked how long is the temporary permit good for and Austin noted it is good for the deration of time that it was issued for.
Chairman Lyle VanHove asked if the water is going south or east?
Ciampa said it starts at Darren Ihnen’s place and dumps at the blue river watermark in the Vermillion River by Gary Knock.
Vanhove asked how much more water does he have to get out of there?
Ciampa noted Knodel is pumping 24 hours a day and still has 20 days left before he is done. He explained he is using two trailer pumps.
Commissioner Mark Kaufmann asked if the pumps were eight or 12 inches?
Austin explained they are six inches and are pumping eight to 10 thousand gallons of water a minute.
Ciampa asked if those two culverts weren’t there what would happen to the water?
“It’s like a bowl sooner or later it’s got to go somewhere if it gets too full” said Austin.
Ciampa asked VanHove, with his experience, is there any way for the commissioners to go after him on the county end?
VanHove said he has never had to deal with an issue like this before.
Commissioner Jared Hybertson said even if the county doesn’t have the authority, would a letter from the board asking or requesting that he do something different make a difference?
Austin noted Knodel’s exact words were “I’m not stopping the pump and I don’t care.”
Miller asked, “Why do you think he is being so stubborn?”
Ciampa said he believes Knodel is using his personal opinion for drainage.
Austin added the problem would have been solved if he had pumped directly to the Vermillion River, which is only a mile away; however, it is cheaper to pump water into his slough.
Ciampa commented he doesn’t understand Knodel’s actions since he has the equipment to pump to the Vermillion River. He also doesn’t understand why Knodel didn’t go to the township before pumping.
Austin explained with a mining permit, Knodel is digging deep because he can go as deep as he wants.
VanHove said that he would go talk with the FSA (Farm Service Agency) Office to find out some more information.

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