Reservoir proposal upsets area farmers


While the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District has not officially presented any plans, talk of a possible reservoir being built northwest of Wayne has some local landowners upset.
At last month’s LENRD meeting, Olsson Associates presented results of a reservoir evaluation project that was conducted for the district, looking at 10 creeks in the LENRD area that could be looked at for a possible reservoir some time in the future.
Among the sites considered was one along Dog Creek in northern Wayne County, which is of concern to some landowners in the area.
“The neighbors around here are generally concerned,” said Sheri Dunklau, who owns land in the proposed Dog Creek reservoir area with her husband, Randy. “My husband’s grandfather homesteaded the land across from us and bought this land in 1908, and even if they raise the water level, we’re concerned that it would ruin half our land.”
Wayne County recently constructed two new bridges in the area that would be flooded to create a new reservoir, and initial indications are that the reservoir could reach as far as Ike’s Lake, located about four miles north and west of Wayne.
Dunklau said a copy of a map of the northern part of the county with the proposed reservoir outlined has already been leaked to the public, adding that she believes LENRD officials are secretly trying to move the project through without public knowledge.
“At this point, they’ve said they are down to two sites, but they haven’t shared any sites or information publicly,” she said.
In a March 23 story in the Norfolk Daily News, a LENRD official said that a reservoir was being considered to deal with issues relating to groundwater that is flowing out of the district and into other natural resource districts.
“Another thing that we were taking into consideration is water users outside of our district,” LENRD general manager Mike Sousek said in the Daily News article. “There’s a heavy presence from outside our district that wants to maybe claim some of the water that’s leaving our district. We just want to be prepared for those discussions and have options for them should other alternatives be pursued.”
Sousek told the Daily News that it would be some time before any construction work might begin on a new reservoir. Plans for the reservoir southeast of Hubbard that opened in late 2014 were first announced back in 2006, so even if a decision were made today, it would be close to 10 years before construction would begin.
“We’re not even anywhere close to making a decision,” Sousek was quoted in the Daily News. “This was just an investigatory study to see what was out there. Should we want to pursue something, we’ll definitely have a lot more discussion and a lot more planning.”
Dog Creek is one of 10 sites that were considered by Olsson Associates and, along with Plum Creek, scored the highest among those researched. Other waterways that were looked at included Battle Creek, Bell Creek, Cuming Creek, East Fork Maple Creek, Pebble Creek, Plum Creek, Silver Creek, Snyder Reservoir and West Fork Maple Creek.
Dunklau said she and other concerned area landowners will be in attendance for the next LENRD meeting, scheduled for Thursday, April 28 at 7 p.m. at Northeast Community College’s Lifelong Learning Center.