Rock Falls man says irrigators spraying over Dunn County roads create hazards

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE —  If you have ever driven past farm fields on a summer day, you may have experienced the sudden torrential downpour created by irrigators spraying over the road.

Barry Andre of Rock Falls says he is deeply concerned about irrigator hazards.

Andre appeared before the Dunn County Board at the June 19 meeting to ask that county officials review the ordinances and enforce existing laws about irrigators spraying over the roads.

Andre said he also is a farmer but that he does not use irrigation.

Within a five-mile radius of where he lives, there are 29 high-capacity wells, and 90 percent of the irrigators spray over the road, Andre said.

Anyone driving a tractor without a cab — or a pickup truck with a load that cannot get wet — is forced to take an alternate route to reach his or her destination, he said.

“Sometimes it adds five or six miles just to get home,” Andre said.

In one instance of an irrigator spraying over the road, Andre said he very nearly collided with a man and woman on a motorcycle who were turning around on the other side of “the wall of water.”

In another instance, a woman pulled over on the opposite side of the road to try to avoid the water, and when Andre emerged from the irrigator spray, he said he had to “take the ditch” to avoid hitting the woman.

Three years ago, Andre said, an irrigator broke the windshield on his truck.

The deputy who responded said the windshield must have already been cracked, but Andre said a new windshield had been installed only a few months earlier.

Andre noted that he has reported the problem many times to the sheriff’s department, but that when deputies contact the farmers, the farmers always say they are “not aware” that their irrigators are spraying over the road.

Another problem, Andre said, is that in some places, the fields are plowed up nearly to the edge of the road and the ditches have been destroyed.

The lack of a ditch to channel rainwater — along with thousands of gallons of irrigator water spraying over the road — softens the edge of the blacktop so that road begins to crumble, he said.

Taxpayers paid to have the ditches put in and the roads paved, Andre noted.

If it is the county’s policy to allow crops to be planted up to the edge of the road, Andre said he could think of uses for the ditches by his farm as well.

Andre said his purpose for coming to the Dunn County Board was to ask the county to enforce existing laws or to look into creating an ordinance to address the problem.

Steve Rasmussen, county board supervisor from Boyceville and chair of the Dunn County Board, referred the matter to the highway committee and to the judiciary and law committee and asked both committees to report back to the county board.