Monthly Archives: January 2016

BRRWD Plans for Landowner Meetings

At their January 25, 2016 regular meeting held in Barnesville, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), discussed scheduling a series of meetings throughout the District this winter regarding taxation for flood damage reduction (fdr) projects. A year ago, the BRRWD met with the four Counties (Clay, Becker, Wilkin, and Otter Tail) to discuss fdr funding.  The Commissioners suggested that the BRRWD hold a series of informational meetings with landowners to discuss this topic.  One option for funding large scale retention projects could include rejoining the Red River Watershed Management Board (RRWMB).  The BRRWD was a member of the RRWMB from 1981 through 2002.  Bruce Albright, BRRWD Administrator, said that if the BRRWD were to rejoin the RRWMB, the local BRRWD taxation could increase by a factor of approximately 2.75.  The purpose of the meetings will be to discuss the new Revised Watershed Management Plan (RWMP), 2015 Minnesota Legislation regarding buffer strips in cooperation with the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the BRRWD’s long range plan regarding the need for fdr projects, and to discuss ways to possibly finance these fdr projects/RRWMB membership.  Thoughts were that the meetings would be held in the Rothsay/Breckenridge area, Barnesville, and in the Lake Park/Hawley area.  The Board authorized staff to schedule the meeting dates. 

Other business included:

  • A review of the BRRWD’s financial status. Currently, the BRRWD has $483,488.48. Albright noted that the office has closed out the 2009 Federal Emergency Management Agency account. Funding was allocated to the various projects/ditch systems affected by that flooding event.

  • Approval of permits to: Dwight Mickelson for 54.9 acres of wetland restorations in Section 16, Parke Township, Clay County, in conjunction with the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) and the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources; and Ed Stellmach for pattern tiling of 80 acres in the SW1/4, Section 8, Atherton Township, Wilkin County.

  • Discussed an informational meeting held on 01/15/16 with landowners near the county line west of Trunk Highway No. 75 in Holy Cross and Wolverton Townships. The Board authorized Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI), to gather some additional information. Landowners are exploring the possibility of installing a new drainage ditch on the south side of the county line that would carry water directly into the Red River of the North.

  • Authorized HEI to obtain some additional survey information pertaining to a landowner meeting held on 01/22/16 to discuss drainage in Sections 27 and 34, Manston Township, Wilkin County. The landowners felt that some additional survey work would be needed to look at clean out of the water way north of the Manston Township Cemetery. The affected landowners will be contacted.

  • Reviewed suggested changes to the BRRWD Rules. The Board is in the process of updating their Rules. A new section will be added regarding subsurface drainage (tiling). Triggers regarding operation of tile systems were discussed. The Board questioned whether the new Rules could require existing tile systems to be retrofitted to include a drainage water management component.

  • Considerable discussion took place regarding the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority’s (DA) fiscal year 2016 budget, totaling $237.5 million. As a signer to the current Joint Powers Agreement, the BRRWD must approve the budget. Board members expressed concerns that the environmental and permitting processes need to be completed before the DA spends additional money on project construction. A draft motion approving the budget contingent upon the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources finishing their Environmental Impact Statement, settlement of the upstream lawsuits regarding work in the Oxbow-Hickson-Bakke area, and the receipt of federal funding, was drafted by the BRRWD’s Attorney, Tami L. Norgard, Vogel Law Firm. Even with the proposed amendments, a 4-2 vote denied approval of the budget. The BRRWD Managers did note that they had no problem with the City of Fargo continuing their in town work for flood protection.

  • Authorized staff to meet with a sales representative from Laserfiche to discuss possible implementation of an electronic document management system.

  • Noting that the BRRWD’s Mediation Project Team will have a meeting on Thursday, January 28, 2016, at 1:30 PM in the Barnesville office. Active project discussions include Barnesville Township, South Branch of the Buffalo River, and Stony Creek. HEI has completed an analysis of the Stony Creek project and how that project would be operated if the BRRWD was an RRWMB member. The RRWMB would like to see longer retention times if downstream areas are flooding.

  • Discussed scheduling of a meeting with Kurtz Township supervisors to discuss road and ditch bank slumping issues along Clay County Ditch No. 33.

  • Approved payment of bills totaling $132,433.84, which includes a loan payment to the Vergas State Bank for the BRRWD’s new office. 2017 will be the last building loan payment.

The next meeting of the Board of Managers, BRRWD, is scheduled for Monday, February 8, 2016, at 7:00 PM in the Barnesville Office located at 1303 4th AVE NE, Barnesville, MN. All meetings are open to the public.  For more information, please visit our website at www.brrwd.org.

BRRWD Reorganizes for 2016

At their annual meeting held on January 11, 2016, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), elected officers for the new year. Those officers will be as follows:

  • Gerald L. Van Amburg, Clay County, Chairman
  • Peter V. Fjestad, Otter Tail County, Vice Chairman
  • John E. Hanson, Becker County, Secretary
  • Mark T. Anderson, Clay County, Treasurer
  • Breanna L. Kobiela, Clay County, Manager
  • Catherine L. Affield, Wilkin County, Manager
  • Troy E. Larson, Wilkin County, Manager

At the annual meeting, the Board also re-appointed Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) as their engineering consultant, Vogel Law Firm was hired as the BRRWD’s legal counsel, Harold J. Rotunda, Certified Public Accountant, West Fargo, ND, was hired to do the 2015 audit.

The Board also spent considerable time at their meeting discussing Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority (DA) issues. On the agenda, was approval of the proposed fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget totaling $237.5 million and approval to sign contracts with the DA regarding Phase I funding for three retention sites being studied by the BRRWD.  Those sites are Stony Creek, Barnesville Township, and the South Branch of the Buffalo River.  The Board did approve a motion to sign the DA’s contracts for the Phase I funding.  However, since Manager Kobiela was not in attendance, the Board decided to table a vote to approve the FY16 DA’s budget until their next meeting on Monday, January 25, 2016.  The vote will take place no sooner than 9:00 PM.  Members of the upstream coalition attended the meeting questioning why the Board would approve the budget when they felt the DA still had more work to do before they should start project construction.  All agreed that flood control work within the City of Fargo should continue.  At issue were budget items pertaining to work on the Oxbow-Hickson-Bakke (OHB) levees.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is still working on the Environmental Impact Statement which is expected to be finished in the next several months.  There is also the matter of the court’s injunction regarding work on OHB.

Other business included:

  • A review of the BRRWD’s financial status. At the end of the year, staff undertook a number of transactions to the various accounts. They included allocation of interest income and expenses, assessment of a 1% administrative fee, and a number of transfers from the Minnesota Statues Annotated (M.S.A.) 103D.905, Subd. 3 general fund. The BRRWD’s bank balance is $589,597.23. A summary of 2016 accounts receivable shows that the BRRWD could receive $9.5 million. Some of that income will be dependent on projects where grant funding is available

  • Noting that an informational meeting will be held on Friday, January 15, 2016 at 8:00 AM in the Watershed Office to discuss a drainage survey conducted on the Clay-Wilkin County Line west of Trunk Highway No. 75. Affected landowners have been invited. The meeting is open to the public.

  • Noting that a landowner informational meeting will be held on Friday, February 22, 2016 at 8:00 AM in the Watershed Office regarding a natural waterway that drains into the Manston Slough area. Questions about the waterway arose last fall and the Board authorized HEI to conduct a survey. Affected landowners have been invited. The meeting is open to the public.

  • Noting that BRRWD representatives will attend the 01/12/16 Clay County Commissioners meeting in Moorhead to present the 2016 petitions for funding in accordance with M.S.A. 103D.905 Subd. 3. The general levy will raise $626,927. A second special levy under this same taxing authority will raise $450,000 for the Watershed Office, Stony Creek Comprehensive, Barnesville Township Investigation, Manston Slough Restoration, Otter Tail River Planning, and Reinvest in Minnesota/Wetland Restoration Enhancement investigations.

  • Noting that BRRWD representatives will attend the 33rd Annual Red River Basin Land and Water International Summit Conference on January 19-21, 2016 at the Alerus Center/Canad Inns in Grand Forks, ND. The goal of the conference is to acknowledge, celebrate, and create awareness as to how much progress is being made each year in the Red River Basin. BRRWD representatives planning to attend include Albright, Van Amburg, Fjestad, and Hanson.

  • Noting that the next Mediation Project Team meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 1:30 PM in the Watershed Office. The project discussions include Stony Creek, Barnesville Township, South Branch of the Buffalo River, and Wolverton Creek Restoration.

  • Noting that work continues on the Revised Watershed Management Plan (RWMP). Office staff and HEI are working on the draft sections. Once the draft RWMP is finished, it needs to be submitted to the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources for a 60 day review period. The purpose of the update is to include the newly added areas in Wilkin and Otter Tail Counties.

  • Approved a contribution of $500 to the 21st Anniversary River Watch Forum to be held on March 15, 2016 at the University of Minnesota-Crookston Campus. The Forum is sponsored by the International Water Institute.

  • Approved payment of bills totaling $181,155.30.

The next meeting of the Board of Managers, BRRWD, is scheduled for Monday, January 25, 2016, at 7:00 PM in the Watershed Office located at 1303 4th AVE NE, Barnesville, MN. The special agenda topic will be an update of the BRRWD’s rules.  All meetings are open to the public.  For more information, please visit our website at www.brrwd.org.