Permanent flood protection? Citizen input sought by council

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By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Residents of northwest Benson will have a chance to give the city council input next Wednesday on future flood control efforts during a special meeting set for 6:30 a.m. at the golf club.

As waters crept up to the Benson Golf Course service road that separates the course from the Hawleywood Subdivision and homes on Meadow Lane March 24, volunteer firemen, city staff, and council members helped construct a flood barrier on the road.

At the same time, three large trackhoes were working to clear ice floes and logs from the Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) railroad bridge spanning the Chippewa River adjacent to the Minnesota Highway 9 bridge at Benson’s western edge.

The BNSF bridge’s maze of 17 pylons can block the large ice floes from passing through, creating a dam that then causes the water level north of the bridge and along the golf course to start riding. When ice floes were cleared, the water level immediately started falling abating the threat to the homes east of the golf club road.

This was by no means the first time the area has been threatened by floodwaters.  In 1997, 2001, and 2011 were also years floodwaters threatened northwest Benson. With a warming climate it is expected that flooding events will be occurring more frequently.

There are three central purposes of the Wednesday, June 19 meeting, City Manager Rob Wolfington said Monday. First, there are new people who have moved into the area in recent years who may not be aware of what a flood plain is and isn’t, and what the requirements are for those who live in one.

Second, he said he would go over the history of the past flood threats and the measures that were taken to address them. It will also go over the comprehensive plan the city developed for addressing the threat of a flood with the building of a dike. That plan was not implemented when area residents split on support for it.

Third, will be a discussion with area residents on what their thoughts are on pursuing more permanent flood protection structures, or if they prefer continuing to respond with temporary efforts when a flood threatens...

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