Village address water issues

An aerial drone shot of Lake Barney depicts how water overflow affected the Rotary Bike Trail in 2018. That situation got worse in 2019, and doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better without intervention.

The next step in understanding flooding in northern Oregon will head to the City of Fitchburg Common Council next week.

The city is working with St. Paul-based consultant Emmons and Olivier Resources, Inc. to learn about how to mitigate Lake Barney flooding just north of the boundary with the Town of Oregon, public works director Bill Balke said. The consultant asked the city to install the wells to collect data on groundwater levels.

“In order to better understand the groundwater and possible solutions that may or may not be possible, they’ve recommended we install groundwater monitoring wells surrounding the area,” he said. “As we’re discovering the data that we’re collecting, and what needs to be done in order to come up with solutions, we’re adding easements to monitor things, to make sure we get the best solution possible.”

The Public Works committee will recommend approval to the council, which will meet on Tuesday, July 28. The Observer’s press time on Tuesday is prior to the meeting.

Lake Barney, which sits near the top of the Badfish Creek Watershed, grew from the 32-acre body it was 33 years ago to around 800 acres during times of heavy rains, which has continued to cause problems for Fitchburg and Oregon residents. In addition to the individual costs to keep the water at bay, the glacial kettle has also put pressure on the water table, causing fields to flood and drowning out the roots of trees that predate the Revolutionary War.

Downstream in the Village of Oregon, flooding has caused Netherwood Road to close down multiple times in the last two-and-a-half years, causing water issues for people living around Lerner Park.

The first well would be placed on the eastern side of the lake, and the second would be placed near the border for the city and the town, according to a map in the committee packet.

Those wells would need to be placed on land owned by the state Department of Corrections south of Hwy. M, according to documents provided by the city, and require a land use agreement between the two entities to move forward.

Lake Barney is not the only area in Fitchburg that is experiencing flooding issues. The city is also working on finding solutions with the Town of Verona for Goose Lake, which has caused multiple instances of flooding in the past 20 years that have required the closure of Fitchrona Road.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.