Lincoln County Board hears ditch repair complaint

Photo by Jody Isaackson Lincoln County Environmental Administrator Robert Olsen shows off flexible tiling during Tuesday’s Lincoln County Board meeting to demonstrate a point about perforated tile and their connectors in response to a concern about a recent tile repair along a ditch in Hope Township.

IVANHOE — Landowner Ron Persoon was not happy about helping to pay for tile line repairs worth $8,977.50 inside the ditch on his property in Hope Township twice within past six years.

The line is expected to drain excess water off a field so that it can be planted with crops. But the line had failed for the past three years and crops were flooded out, according to Persoon.

So he attended Tuesday’s Lincoln County Board meeting along with his brothers, Richard and Kenneth. By the time they left the meeting, the issue was tabled by the board.

“We asked to be on the agenda to speak our piece to you, the board, but the environmental administrator beat us,” Persoon said. “Why did he get to speak first?”

Environmental Administrator Robert Olsen arrived at the meeting with samples of the flexible tile used in the old tiling project and he also brought along members of the company that had done the job of laying the new tile. They had samples of what they had laid in order to demonstrate what they had done.

“Originally, there was a 6-inch concrete tile that crossed the cropland,” Olsen said. “Previously, we had some tile in there that was not consistent with what should have been in there. So about five to six years ago, we initiated the replacement and repair of that system. Then, 6-inch single-wall pipe was installed at the elevation of the existing pipe.”

The mistake they had made at the time, he said, was that the pipe was perforated, which caused serious problems where it went through sites with trees and the bottom (land) where there are weeds and native plants. The tile plugged, hence the flooding.

The decision was made to replace it again.

A & C Excavating of Marshall agreed to replace it for nearly $9,000.

“This summer, we made the decision to correct a mistake that was made originally,” Olsen said. “The tile that was used was 6 inches in diameter and was concrete. To replace it with a 6-inch single wall tile reduces the hydraulic efficiency of that system. So we went in and replaced it with 8-inch. We used single wall non-perforated tile. It would provide the same hydraulic efficiency as the 6-inch did and is allowed under statute. The excavation that was decided on to give them a little better grade was to dig through a hill for 22 feet where we used non-perforated dual wall.”

One of the main concerns in that hill was the nearness to trees which roots could invade and clog perforated, single-wall tile.

Later in the meeting, the Persoons pointed out the tile in the hill was also only single-wall.

They were also concerned about the couplers were not taped as a couple other companies had told them it should be.

“I went to visit two other companies about the couplers,” Kenneth Persoon said. “Both said they always tape them.”

“The decision to not tape the couplers was made,” Olsen said. “Will it be a problem? There are no absolutes in this world. Will it be a problem five to 10 years from now? Who knows?”

“Taping is usually only done with tile is plowed, not excavated,” A & C Excavating representative Nicole Nibbe said.

Her co-worker, Matt Sanderson, then illustrated the joint taping they did do, saying he uses about a quarter of a roll of tape on each T-joint, but not on the couplers. In his opinion it was done correctly.

“We backfilled the entire thing,” Sanderson said. “That pushes them together tighter.”

“We changed the tile size and evaluated the work and time they put in. We feel it was fairly billed,” Olsen said.

He also said that they should be paid because they were not the company who had installed the faulty tile just over five years ago, but he couldn’t remember who that company was.

The Persoons disagreed, saying that the landowners should not have to pay for the tiling twice and maybe again a third time if the new, untaped flexible tile clogged up within the next 10 years.

Olsen asked if they would be satisfied if A & C gave them a five- to 10-year warranty. The Persoons wanted a 10-year warranty. Nibbe and Sanderson said that they would consult the owner of their company about giving a 10-year warranty.

The Persoons left the meeting and returned later with a copy of the permit for the current tiling job. They reported that Southwest Farm Tiling had done the first repair job. However, the permit, being for the current job, did not include the requirements for the first.

The permit said non-perforated tile had to be used on this current project, so the Persoons were thinking it was supposed to have been used on the first lay as well. However, back then, there were no regulations or statutes that had to be followed, Olsen said. He trusted that the company had followed manufacturer’s instructions.

“In my opinion, the money is gone,” Commissioner Jack Vizecky said. “If there were no requirements that can be proven, there is no recourse (on the first repair).”

“I can understand how they feel about having to pay for the tiling job twice,” Commissioner Mic VanDeVere said. “We need to take a look at this stuff and draw up a plan to say, ‘This is the way it should be.'”