Flood control: City taking steps to alleviate leaky ditch irrigation

By: 
Charlie Denison
Reporter

Charlie Taylor stands outside his home on East Corcoran, where an irrigation ditch leaked last summer, creating a flood in his back yard. The City of Lewistown is looking into lining the ditch.

Photo by Charlie Denison

Ask and you shall receive.

That seems to be the case for Charlie Taylor, Mike Moline and other residents living on or around East Corcoran, as the City of Lewistown is responding to concerns about flooding as a result of an irrigation ditch.

“We are applying for a planning grant to line the Lewistown ditch in the portion that runs through City limits,” Lewistown City Manager Holly Phelps told the News-Argus recently. “We would line it from where it comes off of Spring Creek by Garfield Elementary and go past the sewer plant.”

Lining the ditch accordingly will greatly reduce the impact of flooding on the north side of town, Phelps said.

Ditch Association President Don Jenni said ditch lining is normally done with concrete.

“It’d be great if we could get the ditch lined,” he said, “but it’d be expensive.”

The City’s interest in lining the ditch comes in response to complaints made earlier this year by north side residents who have been affected by irrigation ditch floods for decades.

Phelps said the City is currently just in the planning stages of lining the ditch. The timeline is undetermined.

The City hopes to partner with the Ditch Association to make this happen.

“We were willing to take the first step toward finding a solution,” Phelps said. “We’ve been listening to complaints and we realize it’s not getting any better. We know something has to be done.”

Phelps said she has not heard back from the Ditch Association yet about lining the ditch.

“I really believe the Ditch Association will be supportive and work with us on finding a solution for the resident, but we’ll see,” Phelps said.

In order to line the ditch, Phelps said the City must receive a grant.

“There are no guarantees we will get the grant, but we are taking the first step to see what all the projects entails and what it will cost,” Phelps said. “It’s a frustrating situation, but I think – in the end – we will come to something that will make this better for everyone.”

The City will not find out if it gets the grant until the 2019 legislative session.

“We’ll know by the end of 2018 at the earliest,” Phelps said. “That’s when we find out rankings.”

Phelps added that she is optimistic the City will get the grant, which she expects to amount to approximately $825,000.

“We typically rank pretty competitively and have been successful getting these kinds of grants,” Phelps said.

As of press time, Jenni said he hadn’t heard from Phelps, but he did hear from City Commissioner Diana Hewitt, who has been collecting information on the ditch issue. Hewitt and Jenni both said they were encouraged by their conversation and hope to move forward with the lining of the ditch.

“I’d be interested in working with the City,” Jenni said. “We’d like to do something. We don’t like flooding people out.”

Area resident Mike Moline, however, remains skeptical.

“Whether this will happen or not, who knows,” he said.

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