Lake of the woodsMembers of the Marshall County Drainage Board continued their discussion of the lake level at Lake of the Woods during their meeting on Tuesday.

During their December meeting Marvin Houin and Charlie Houin asked to drainage board to take action because he alleges the Department of Natural Resources is not adhering to the court order from 1986.  They contend that the DNR is maintaining the Lake of the Woods level about a foot above the court order.  The pair asked the county to have a representative from the DNR to attend the January meeting to answer questions and explain their decisions on the lake level.

On Tuesday, County Attorney Jim Clevenger said the DNR declined the invitation to attend the meeting since there is already some litigation that is pending in Marshall Circuit Court.  Clevenger said the DNR did participate in a telephone conversation with Commissioner Kurt Garner, County Surveyor Craig Cultice himself.  He told drainage board members the DNR supplied some additional information and the surveyor did some additional investigation.  The three are of the opinion of not getting involved in any actions with the DNR at this time.

Marvin Houin said, “The reason I asked the board to get involved was because you are the drainage board and according to the drainage law you are to maintain our ditches and drainage right-of-ways.”  He went on to say, “The damn is not operating according to the court order set by Judge Cook back in 1986.  If the lake is not maintained at the set average level then it’s an obstruction because it’s holding extra water back that it shouldn’t be holding.”

Houin said he has been dealing with this issue for 20 years. He noted that his farm fields have been flooded because of the higher lake level.

Mr. Houin said there had been a GPS gauge that anybody could get on a computer and look at the lake level.  He said the DNR took out the gauge about 5 years ago.  He also commented that the Lake Association received a $5,000 grant to put a new GPS monitor in the lake but is hasn’t been put back in yet.  He asked if the drainage board could help in maintaining the GPS gauge with maintenance costs if necessary.

The Marshall County drainage Board did not take any action and board president Kurt Garner said, “I think we need to let the litigation play out.  That’s my impression.  It’s not to say we don’t have some responsibilities somewhere, rather monitoring. But based on the court order and our conversations we just need to let things play out.”

Garner said he would consider having the drainage board help pay for a new GPS lake level monitoring system.