In February, a discussion started between the city of Mabel, Newburg Township and the Fillmore Soil and Water Conservation district to discuss an issue that has become a concern in the past few years: flooding and drainage in the Mabel Watershed. It is a problem that has been highlighted due to flooding in 2008 and then the flood of June 2013.

While many may be unaware, the city of Mabel is in the center of the Mabel Watershed, which is a complex of creeks and streams that make their way near and into the city of Mabel.

"(Newburg Township) is primarily where the Mabel watershed resides," explained Mabel Public Works director Bob Mierau.

"Their concern (Newburg Township) is when we get these torrential rains, it obviously affects their roads, bridges and culverts and washes them out and so I think it is a concern of theirs as well as ours (Mabel)," Mierau continued. "The whole point of our meeting was just to talk about issues or ideas - anything that we can do as a group together to combine our effort to try to eliminate flooding issues."

At the same time, Mierau said what happens on the farm and in the country does - to a great extent - affect what happens in the city of Mabel in areas of flooding and drainage.

"Water issues are everyone's concern," said Donna Rasmussen with the Fillmore Soil and Water Conservation District. "With the severity of the storms we're having now and the intensity of the rainfalls - we need more of that (conservation)."

She said it all comes back to land use and being able to hold water on the land. Rasmussen added the need is to expand land practices such as no till, cover crops, waterways and water retention ponds that hold water.

"Just through educating the public - whether you live in the city or township - wherever you live, it is just understanding what is going on and trying to come up with a solution...there are a lot of ideas," Mierau said.

Preventing loss before it happens is the main focus of the collaboration between the three government entities.

Mabel endured a lot of financial loss in June of 2013 with major flooding, affecting infrastructure, parks and residences throughout the city. Mierau added there was a great deal of emotional impact as well, as people had to deal with those losses of personal property and damage to their homes.

"It's not only here (in Mabel), it is out in the country, in the township - if they lose roads that wash out...if FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) does not come through on the government side of things - it comes right out of the local general fund budget," Mierau said.

In the 2013 flood, FEMA came through with funding for repairs for the public entities. However, the threshold for FEMA funds for homeowner assets was not met.

"Sometimes it's hard for people that live in the upper end of the watershed, where they aren't dealing with the runoff flooding their homes or causing damage to their properly to understand that the water starts there and goes downhill," Rasmussen said.

She said it continues to be a "cumulative problem." No one landowner is to blame as there are numerous properties where a little bit more could be done that could cumulatively reduce the flows of water.

"For one person, they may think, 'what I can do is just a drop in the bucket,' but all those drops together can make a dig difference," Rasmussen added.

In the wake of the 2008 flood, FEMA devised a revised map for the city of Mabel of flood plain areas within the community. The map is a resource available to city residents and homeowners to plan ahead on ways to protect property and gauge their risk of flooding. It is available upon request at Mabel City Hall.