A pond of water southeast of the Medina Public School building is not an unusual thing, according to Myron Gunderson, Medina mayor.
"A pond there in the spring is normal," he said, referring to the ice that has now formed near the school. "To have one there in the fall is a disaster."
Gunderson said the concern now is how high the pond could get next spring when snowmelt is added to the ice and water that are already in the pond. it could reach a level that threatens the Medina Public School building and the wells that provide drinking water to the city of Medina, he said.
The pond measured nearly 10 acres this fall and approached the school building, according to Damon Bosche, superintendent of Medina school. At its peak, it required three sump pumps to keep water out of the school basement this fall. The water has receded some and one sump pump is currently handling the water infiltration into the school basement.
"We usually have issues every spring," Bosche said. "We've never had to deal with it in the fall of the year."
The basement of the Medina school is used for utilities and storage.
Gunderson said the next step is a survey to determine what options exist for diverting the water at least temporarily.
"We have more questions than answers," he said. "You don't know how much water is still moving."
Other unanswered questions include how much snow the area will receive this winter, how rapidly the snow will melt in the spring and where the excess water could be diverted to prevent problems for the school and city, Gunderson said..
Bosche said crossing privately owned land with a drainage ditch or pipes would require easements from landowners. Representatives of the Medina school district met with the Stutsman County Water Resource Board in November seeking drainage permits but were told they would need to have easements from adjacent landowners before any permit could be issued.
Getting a survey done, acquiring easements if necessary and getting the work done before the spring melt will be a challenge, Bosche said.
They are also working on ways to cover the cost of the project, Gunderson said.
The city of Medina has declared an emergency and is hoping some mitigation money will be available to construct whatever is needed to prevent damage to the wells and school building.
Gunderson said the city of Medina and the Medina Public School Board are continuing to meet working on solutions for the problem.
"We need to find a solution by the spring," he said.