WATER WOES: Proposed Reservoir Goes To Court

Portions of Southern Iowa are running out of water.

The one lake supplying much of Clarke County with drinking water is no longer big enough to meet the demand.

The urgent need for more water could lead to a new Clarke County Reservoir, it’s a proposal that’s been in the works for more than a decade.

However, moving forward will come down to a court ruling.

It could be the biggest hurdle to building the new reservoir, buying the more than 2,000-acres needed for the project.

The Clarke County Reservoir Commission was in court Tuesday arguing for the right to seize private land through eminent domain.

“It’s very frustrating,” says Clarke County landowner Cindy Sanford.

Depending on the ruling, Sanford could lose her home and the 180-acres it sits on.

“My husband and I both agree if we believe this was truly a need for water source, we`d sell willingly but that`s not what it`s all about,” says Sanford.

Sanford says the proposed 816 acre reservoir isn’t just about supplying water to Osceola, Woodburn, Murray and other Southern Iowa communities.

She’s upset it’s also giving Iowans a new place to play.

According to commission, the project is needed for drinking water, water-based recreation and agricultural pollution control.

“Maybe they do need water, I don`t disagree with that, they could probably use some additional water, but they want a lake two and a half times the size that they originally wanted for a water source and to me that`s greed,” says landowner Doug Robins.

Robins says he will lose 25 percent of his farm land or about 100 acres from the project.

“This is pretty much overtaken my life,” says Robins.

His neighbor, Kathy Kelly is facing a similar situation.

Kelly would lose 20 acres close to her home and an additional 10 in the timber, its resources her family counts on.

“It`s heartbreaking to us, we moved out here for the timber, our whole life is in the timber, we use the timber as our wood source we completely heat our home with wood and we are out there a lot, I have riding trails in the timber,” says Kelly.

She says if she’s giving fair market value for her land it won’t be enough to start over somewhere else.

“It`s a loss and total upheaval in your life,” says Kelly.

The Clarke County Reservoir Commission sent over this statement,

“The Clarke County Water Supply Project meets Iowa law for surface water supply projects, is technically feasible, environmentally defensible, and socially acceptable to the large majority of the community.  A referendum on the Local Option Sales and Services tax (LOSST) that is dedicated to pay for the water supply project was held in May, 2013. Over 80% of those voting supported the LOSST. The Clarke County Reservoir Commission has litigation in process.  The judge is currently considering the case, therefore there will be no further comment.”

Currently this decision is in the hands of a District Judge who will decide if the land can be taken from area landowners.  A decision is expected in the next several weeks.



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