BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – Lee County Attorney Ross Braden is continuing to move ahead with court injunctions against residents of Mooar Powdertown who have yet to install acceptable septic systems on their property near Chatfield Lake.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials are eyeing the county to make sure action is taken to clean up the lake. At one point the county had more than 37 property owners without acceptable systems in place, which was causing high contamination levels at the lake.
According to Lee County Board of Supervisor’s Chairman Gary Folluo, the county is alright if owners continue to make progress on upgrading their systems. But if the work stalls, the county could be looking at hefty fines from the state, in the area of $10,000 per day.
Braden said he met with Lee County Health Department officials last week to see what progress is being made.
“From what I understand, from the weather we’ve had contractors are running behind, but I still have three property owners that I’ve filed on and I believe all three have obtained permits as of now,” Braden said.
“One of the residents had their permit fee waived by the health board, however nobody has broken ground yet.”
He said if the contractors haven’t been contacted by those with permits, he will file an application for a court date for those individuals to answer to why they haven’t started work yet.
“That way they’re aware of what date they need to come into court and be prepared to have a hearing if they haven’t broken ground at that point.”
Ross said he’s doing what he can to work with the residents who’ve shown a good faith effort, and are cooperating but have still not broken ground.
He’s also aware of two residents whose installations are failing. Those were installed by individuals attempting to make a good faith effort to correct the situation.
“Through no fault of there own, these systems are now failing. I’ve held off on pursuing injunctions at this point. Those two individuals it’s my understanding, have filed suit against their contractor who installed those systems. Both systems that are failing were installed by the same contractor.”
He said there are some that have received permits but those permits have expired and Braden said he’s going to now start following up with those people.
“No one wants to see these people displaced, but we’re working under a mandate as well,” Braden said.
A county initiative was started in 2016 to get 38 homeowners with unpermitted septic systems to have upgraded or new systems installed. The effort began when the DNR told Lee County that Chatfield Lake, located in the township, was contaminated and had to be cleaned up. DNR officials at one point threatened the county with fines of up to $10,000 per day if efforts weren’t undertaken to get the district and lake cleaned up.
In other action, the board:
• voted 5-0 to authorize appropriating funds for 2019 to county departments.
• voted 5-0 to change the county’s bereavement policy for all union and non-union staff.
• voted 5-0 to publicize all salaries of county hourly and salary staff.
• voted 5-0 to approve merit increases for three employees, a step increase, a new hire of a Victim’s Witness Coordinator, a transfer in the Auditors Office and two promotions.
• heard discussion on new high efficiency lighting being part of the overall bid package of Mohrfeld Electric of Fort Madison, as part of the newly approved solar project set to begin this summer.