If the Mud Creek Watershed District is approved, landowners will pay a tax to fund drainage improvements, said Roger Rix, a Groton-area farmer who is among those working to organize the district.
Several farmers had the idea to create the district after experiencing significant flooding during the past few years and felt it made sense for everyone to help with drainage, Rix said.
Mark Thompson of Putney, another organizer, said he believes the work the district could accomplish will have significant benefits to all farmers in the area.
"If we can do a good job of getting the water into the Jim River, it's gonna help our farmland because we won't have land underwater. We won't have basements damaged from excess water, and it will help prevent our roads from being damaged," Thompson said.
Rix estimates the tax at about 35 cents an acre.
The proposed area covers 160,000 acres; the proposed starting budget is $60,000, Rix said. Sixty percent of voters in the proposed district area must approve creating the district, Rix said.
The first project that would done if the district is created would be to clean Mud Creek from where it flows into the James River to the border of the district, Thompson said. The second project is to get water flowing properly into the James River from Putney Township, he said.
If the watershed district is approved, the Brown County Conservation District will appoint the initial five board members to run the district, Rix said. There are 440 registered voters in the area, Rix said. The city of Groton is not involved or affected by this election, said Anita Lowar, Groton's finance officer. The same is true for the town of Ferney, Rix said.
Landowners would be able to have more of an impact if the district is created, organizers said.
People who own farmland in the district, but do not live in the area, must pay the taxes on the lands, but cannot vote on the district's creation, which upsets some.
Those people who live outside the area, but own land within it, can vote for the watershed district board as well as apply for membership on the board, Rix said.
The James River Water Development District has pledged its assistance to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Natural Resources and Conservation Service with obtaining permits and engineering studies, if approved, Rix said. The James River district has also pledged $20,000 to help with the first project if the Mud Creek Watershed District is created, he said.
Thompson said he understands that it will be an additional tax on farmers in the district, but he feels there are many benefits to the creation of the watershed district.
"I hope it's approved," he said. "I know there's people for it and people against it, I would encourage those who are for it to get down there and vote."
What it is: An election to create a new watershed district in the townships of Groton, Henry, Riverside, and parts of Putney, West Hanson, East Hanson, East Rondell and Garden Prairie.
When and where to vote: The Granary Rural Cultural Center, Tuesday, July 24, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Who can vote: Any registered voter who lives and owns land within the proposed district.