Scott Pelath, Executive Director of the Kankakee and Yellow River Basin Commission addressed Marshall County property owners and elected officials concerning the first major project of the newly formed joint commission. The project will reconstruct severely eroding banks of the Yellow River in Marshall and Starke County.
The one-and-a-half mile stretch of the Yellow River is from 1200 east in Starke County easterly to 1560 feet east of the Marshall County Line. The first priority of this project is to reduce sediment load in the Yellow River and Kankakee River. Eroding banks of the Yellow River washes downstream to Knox. It was estimated that possibly 39,000 tons of sediment wash down to Knox annually.
The Kankakee and Yellow River Basin Commission was created by the Indiana General Assembly in 2019 to deal with water issues in the Kankakee watershed which includes parts of Lake, Porter, Laporte, St. Joseph, Elkhart, Kosciusko, Marshall, Starke, Jasper and Newton Counties. A good portion of Marshall County is in the watershed including all of Polk, North, German, West, Center, a majority of Bourbon and most of Green Townships. Tippecanoe Township does not have any property in the watershed and Walnut Township only has the extreme west edge.
By state statute property in the Kankakee watershed which is 1.3 million acres will be taxed a regional drainage assessment to help fund projects. Indiana code calls for the assessments to be $1.00 per farm acre; $7.00 per residential parcel; $50.00 per commercial parcel and $360.00 per utility or industrial parcel. The state estimated Marshall County would collect $586,000 from the assessments they placed in the statue.
There are options for the county on paying the assessment. Counties can make each parcel pay their share; counties can use other county funds; counties can do a mixed funding of some from property owners and some county funds and finally counties could adopt a higher fee than what the state set forth and use the additional funds for other drainage projects.
Marshall County will have to make a determination on how they plan on funding their portion, either by the assessments on the parcels, using other county funds or a mixture of both.
This first project is estimated to cost $2 million dollars between Marshall and Stake County. It will only have a direct impact on three Marshall County property owners: the Edna Chapman Trust, Judd Rouch Trust and John and Lawana Singleton who all own the property on either side of the Yellow River between Upas Road and the County Line Road. This project is expected to begin toward the end of this year.