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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Repairing the Red Cedar River bank just below Riverview Avenue in Colfax where the storm sewer outlet has eroded the bank could cost as much as $30,000.
There’s a large scour hole on the bank, and the storm sewer pipe has broken off, said Gareth Shambeau of Ayres Associates at the Colfax Village Board’s January 25 meeting.
The distance to the road from the scour hole is only about 30 feet, and it will get worse with time, he said.
Options for fixing the situation could range from about $5,000 to $30,000. The village board could also choose to do nothing, but doing nothing would create an even bigger problem, Shambeau said.
Restoring the bank, he noted, would require obtaining a permit from the state Department of Natural Resources.
One option would be to repair the slope, install a new storm sewer pipe and then rip-rap the eight feet down to the water, Shambeau said.
The ideal solution would be to cover the pipe, install a manhole, and then put the pipe right at the water’s edge, but that would also be the most expensive solution at $20,000 to $30,000, he said.
What about moving the whole storm sewer north? asked Gary Stene, village trustee.
The storm sewer could be relocated and installed with a shorter pipe, but if the existing pipe is dug up, the hole still must be filled, Shambeau said.
If the village board decides to do nothing, the situation could be monitored, but it could get worse quickly during a heavy rainstorm, and once the erosion reaches the road, “now it’s an emergency situation,” he said.
“It will only get bigger and more expensive to fill,” Shambeau said.
The village will have to do something at some point if not now, he said.
“If we have to fix it, let’s fix it and fix it right,” said Anne Jenson, village trustee.
Stene said when he was growing up, the river had less current in that area, but now it seems as if the river is washing out the bank below the storm sewer pipe.
The scour hole grows worse every time it rains, and it is cutting up the hill, Shambeau said.
Unless the village board votes to maintain the status quo and monitor the situation, Shambeau said he would contact the DNR right away to find out about the permitting process.
Scott Gunnufson, village president, asked Shambeau to also find out from the DNR what the agency’s preferred method would be for addressing the situation.
The project can be bid without a DNR permit while the permit is in the process of being issued.
The project also could be done as an alternate bid, Shambeau said.
The storm sewer and river bank repair could be done as a change order as well, he said.
In the meantime, while Shambeau is finding out more information about DNR permits and preferred methods of repair, Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, said she would contact Sean Lentz of Ehlers, Inc. for financial analysis and advice.
At the village board’s December 14 meeting, Rand Bates, director of public works, noted the river bank has been eroding from the Riverview storm sewer since 2011.
All of the water from the road is now going into the storm sewer. In 2011, there was an unsafe sample of drinking water, and the hydrant was flushed, which started the erosion on the river bank by the storm sewer on Riverview, and now every heavy rain makes it worse, he said.
Shambeau had noted that curb and gutter installed on Riverview would cut down on the water coming from the road, so the only water going through the storm sewer pipe would be from Lila Whitted’s yard.
Another problem complicating the repair of the storm sewer from Riverview Avenue to the Red Cedar River is that no existing formal easements have been located, Shambeau said at the January 25 meeting.
A title search can be done for an easement, but if no easement exists, then the next step would be to consider getting an easement in place for the storm sewer, he said.
The title search would cover two parcels, and if there are no recorded easements, Shambeau said he would recommend obtaining the easements.
Stene asked why two parcels would be involved.
The stormwater pipe is in Lila Whitted’s yard, Bates said.
And there is also another parcel involved on the other side of the street where the right-of-way narrows, Shambeau said.
Lila remembers something about an easement but cannot find the paperwork, Niggemann said.
“We need to do the title work because nothing has been recorded,” she said.
“Sounds about normal,” Stene commented.
The Colfax Village Board approved moving forward with the title search.
The storm sewer on Riverview would be part of a street project on Riverview and High Street.
Construction estimates for the street projects, without the storm sewer repair, are $253,000 for Riverview Avenue from High Street to Viking Drive and $96,000 for High Street from Riverview Avenue to Oak Street.