Washington County Board of Supervisors and members of the Herman Village Board of Trustees are working toward a maintenance solution for a dam south of Herman that several people are worried could fail.
The dam is on private property near County Road P21 just south of Herman School Road. Though it has an easement which allows for outside entities to perform maintenance, the easement does not specify maintenance as any one entity’s responsibility or duty. It is supposed to be a dry dam, but has been filling up with water over the last few months due to a partially clogged drainage pipe.
On Nov. 5, the Herman Village Board approved a motion initiating a request to the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (PMRNRD) to perform an assessment of the dam. The Washington County Board of Supervisors will discuss the dam at its meeting today, said Supervisor Jay Anderson, District 5-Blair.
"We're not qualified to work on dams, to maintenance dams, our insurance doesn’t cover stuff like that," Anderson said. "If we go up and do something on that dam and next year or two years it bursts, the taxpayers of this county will be held liable for it."
Anderson said he's hoping to work toward a permanent solution to the unclear dam maintenance problem.
The county board also discussed the dam at its Oct. 8 meeting when Bill Shamburg, who rents land near the dam, said he'd watched the water rising up to several feet in the pond over several months.
"It's just about full," he said. "It'd be a disaster if it broke. The reason they put it in there is to save Herman. South end of Herman, every time we got a rain, it flooded."
Herman resident Joel Loftis, whose family owns the land the dam is on, said previously that people's property would be damaged if the dam broke.
Loftis said the dam is supposed to be a dry dam that slowly lets out water after a rainfall. After a wet spring, summer and fall, the pond behind the dam is filling up with water due to a partially clogged drainage pipe. The pipe follows CR P21 and the Herman School Road through the village under U.S. Highway 75.
The village board's request for the PMRNRD to perform an assessment on the dam could lead to more definite maintenance responsibility, though it's unclear whether the PMRNRD will agree to the assessment.
Herman Village Clerk Vicky Kellogg said the village board would discuss any financial obligation for the dam at a later date. Anderson said his main concern is getting the right people completing the work in the right way.
As it stands, further action still needs to be taken to solve the maintenance issue for the dam.
"The reason this is moving slowly is because we're trying to find out all the information there is out there and not do anything until the Herman board had a chance to talk about it and we've had a chance to talk about it," Anderson said. "Then come up with a solution that this will never, ever, ever be an issue again."