Dozens of people turned out in Velva last night to learn about progress being made on flood protection for rural areas along the Mouse River.
Engineers who've spent the last year focused on rural flood protection talked about their work.
Jim Olson reports that, as difficult as designing flood protection for more-urban areas might be, the varied needs of people in rural areas make flood protection there every bit as difficult.
(Yabo Gjellstad, McHenry County Resident) "This is where I was born and grew up. My heart is here. It's where I want to live."
Yabo Gjellstad has deep roots in the Mouse River bottoms northeast of Velva.
(Yabo Gjellstad, McHenry County Resident) "My great grandfather homesteaded here in 1893 and built the house in 1907. An interesting feature is that it has indoor plumbing - a flush toilet in 1907."
Now, he's hoping the flood of 2011 doesn't flush this house away for good. The century-old house was certainly tested in the high water.
(Yabo Gjellstad, McHenry County Resident) "Water flowing against it for 93 days in the 2011 and never budged. It stands here solid as a rock."
And he wants to refurbish it and move back home. But he says he can't just yet.
(Yabo Gjellstad, McHenry County Resident) "I'm in the process of renovating the house but I'm waiting to find out what happens with this flood plan."
Wednesday night, engineers talked with Gjellstad and dozens of other people who wonder what will happen when new flood control measures are implemented.
(Scott Sobiech, Barr Engineering) "It's incredibly challenging."
The challenge facing Scott Sobiech - an engineer with Barr Engineering - is balancing desires of people like Gjellstad - who says he can't live with flows of ten thousand CFS - a number being considered as a new target flow rate for the river - with those of ranchers a bit farther downstream who don't mind some high flows for a little while to charge their hay land with moisture for the year, as long as the flows drop quickly to get the river back into its banks.
(Scott Sobiech, Barr Engineering) "It's a huge issue when you look at that area downstream of Velva on up to Canada - a lot of diverse interests."
Sobiech and the engineering team are planning to gather all of the varied requests and concerns and produce several options for elected and appointed officials to choose from.
(Scott Sobiech, Barr Engineering) "With all these competing demands you can't make everyone happy. We're going to present the information, present the results, and let the policy makers draw their conclusions and determine the path forward."
For Gjellstad and his neighbors living along the Mouse River near Velva, the choices made by the people in charge will determine their future.
(Yabo Gjellstad, McHenry County Resident) "I know I'm a minority but I still have a voice."
Near Velva, Jim Olson, KX News.
Engineers are scheduled to deliver options for rural flood protection to the State Water Commission in May.