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Ditch company promises to clean out pipes to alleviate standing water

Article Date: 
28 September, 2012 (All day)

Tired of a yard full of standing water, residents are waiting to see if a local ditch company’s promises will be kept.
Robert and Diane Gates have lived on half an acre at 595 E. 100 South in Morgan City for 16 years.  Before 2009, they had no problems with the South Morgan Ditch Company ditch running through their backyard.  Since 2009, they and several neighbors have fought standing water.  At the Gates residence, the field of water measures about 100 feet by 40 feet.  
“We are in a dither.  From the time when the water is turned on, we are screwed.  We are soppy,” Diane Gates said.  “I am not trying to take their water, but as a homeowner, I have rights.”
Gates points to Utah statute that ditch owners are liable for damages as well as responsible for preventing water waste.  At a time when other water users are being asked to cut back on consumption, Gates said it is difficult to see the water being wasted in her yard.  The water is also breeding mosquitoes, she said.  They haven’t mowed their lawn in a month, and Diane suspects the grass beneath is about a foot long.
South Morgan Ditch Master Gene Carter said that once the water is turned off Oct. 15, he plans to clean many of the ditch pipes out.  While the Gates suspect an underground pipe is leaking, Carter suspects tree roots are the culprit.  Carter said that underground ditch pipes may be some 60 years old.
“It’s an ongoing problem all summer,” Carter said.  “Roots are causing a back-up.  The clean-out has to be done to get things back in a workable condition.  We can’t go through another year like this.”
He said people may not be happy when the ditch company clears out trees in the ditch easement.  He admits the clean-out could carry an expense, but it’s one the ditch company will have to bear.
The Gates hope the ditch company will actually move forward with their plans.
In the last couple of years, the Gates have tried to make a formal complaint with local law enforcement.  However, all advice given to them included hiring a lawyer.  Living on retirement and in their 70s, the Gates didn’t feel this was an option.  So they called their ditch company, state water officials, and others, just to keep getting the run-around.
 “I feel bad for them,” Carter said of the residents on 100 South.