WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 22, 2011, 03:00 AM

Wilkin County considers removing snow from ditches to help fight overland flooding

Breckenridge, Minn. (WDAY TV) - Imagine a football field filled with 470 feet of snow. That's 60 feet taller than the Fargo High-rise, all 22 stories stacked on top of itself. That's how much snow Wilkin County Officials are considering removing from the biggest ditch system in the county, 6-miles long.

The Connelly ditch begins right here at the corner of County Road 16 and 310th Street. Right now, county officials are trying to figure out what to do with the nearly 15-feet of snow that fills the ditch before the spring flood hits.

The ditch, which is located a few miles north of Breckenridge, flows West, underneath Highway 75 and into the Red River. Natural pressure allows water to flow southwest into the diversion during the spring, however if the snow is not removed, it blocks water and delays flows by a day or two.

County officials say if nothing is done, this area could experience overland flooding for months.

TOM RICHELS - Former Wilkin County Engineer: “The biggest concern about the project is the timing. If we do it too soon, before the water starts to flow, the ditch can cover up again with snow and all of your time and effort is wasted. If you can time it perfectly, and get a substantial amount of the snow out, it may solve a lot of problems to the south of us.”

In 1997, the Army Corps cleared a 10 foot wide trench in the middle of the ditch for 6 miles, but that didn't work. However, Richels is hopeful that if they clear most of the snow this year, they'll see a different result.