Monthly Archives: April 2016

BRRWD Submits Biennial Budget Request

At their meeting held in Barnesville on 04/25/16, the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD) spent some time going over their Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-2019 Biennial Budget Request (BBR), which was submitted to the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR). BWSR uses this process to collect information on local government conservation and water management resource needs.  The information provided through the FY 2018-2019 BBR will be used by BWSR Staff, the Clean Water Council, the Legislature, and the Governor’s Office in developing FY 2018-2019 budgets.

Future projects being considered by the BRRWD include: work on the Otter Tail River, Red River of the North, Wolverton Creek, Buffalo River, Whisky Creek/Clay County Ditch (C.D.) No. 34 by Barnesville, Stony Creek, the South Branch of the Buffalo River in Wilkin County, Whiskey Creek near Kent, MN, and district-wide surface and ground water quality improvements.  The project and activities budget is $60 million.  That total would be split $40 million from the State and $20 million using locally leveraged funding.

Other business included:

  • A review of the BRRWD’s current financial status. Cash on hand totals $143,877.85. 

  • Discussion regarding the status of Wilkin C.D. No. 7. At the last meeting, the BRRWD voted to lower the 2016 assessment from $150,000 to $75,000. The Wilkin County Auditor’s Office agreed to work with the Board in this regard, and amended tax notices have been mailed to approximately 96 landowners. Landowners at the meeting questioned the next steps for C.D. No. 7. The Wilkin County Highway Department has indicated that they will not have time to do the repairs. The County will forward all of their information to Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI), who will finish the repair plans. Hopes are that the work can be started after Labor Day 2016. Once the plans and quantities are developed, an informational meeting will be held with the affected landowners. 

  • Approval of permits to: Jim Klein Land FLP for the installation of 300 acres of pattern tiling in the S1/2, Section 29, Mitchell Township, Wilkin County; Clay County Highway Department for approximately 1,000′ of regrading on County State Aid Highway No. 6 in the NW1/4, Section 3, Tansem Township; and Haarstad Family Farms LLC to install grade stabilization structures and water and sediment control basins as designed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the NE1/4, Section 28, Oscar Township, Otter Tail County. 

  • Discussed the status of the appeal/lawsuit associated with Project No. 77, Clay C.D. No. 51-Proposed Lateral No. 3 in Section 28, Kragnes Township. It appears that two neighboring landowners may be working on a land sale that would partially resolve this issue. 

  • Noting that work continues on Phase 4 of the Oakport Flood Mitigation Project. The recent weekend rains have delayed project construction. Zavoral Construction, Inc. has submitted a revised schedule and would like to have the project completed by Labor Day 2016.

  • Noting that representatives from HEI continue to work with four potential landowners interested in installing a farmstead ring dike. The Red River Watershed Management Board (RRWMB) secured a $400,000 grant through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and their Flood Damage Reduction Program during the 2015 Legislative session. Once local costs for each of the ring dikes are established, the information will be forwarded to Ron Harnack, Executive Director, RRWMB. 

  • Noting that the next Mediation Project Team Meeting is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, June 16, 2016, at 7:00 PM in the BRRWD office, Barnesville, MN. Active projects include the Barnesville Township Drainage Study, work on the South Branch of the Buffalo River in Wilkin County, and Stony Creek northwest of Barnesville. A meeting was held on 04/20/16 with representatives from BWSR regarding their proposed work in Section 11, Manston Township, Wilkin County, on the South Branch of the Buffalo River. They agreed that the BRRWD’s plan to look at restoring the river channel east of Trunk Highway (T.H.) No. 9 was a good idea. HEI will look at a total project concept east of T.H. No. 9. HEI representatives will be having a video teleconference on 04/26/16 with representatives from the DNR Dam Safety Division regarding the dam classification on Stony Creek.

  • Noting that work continues on the Revised Water Management Plan (RWMP). Hopes are that the draft plan can be submitted to the Board of Managers, BRRWD, for their review/consideration at the 05/23/16 meeting. 

  • Noting that on 04/25/16, the office received Working Copy-Version 3.4 of the Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) for the Metro Flood Diversion Authority (DA). The DA hopes that the final version of the JPA can be solicited for review/signatures sometime in May 2016. 

  • Noting that an integrated working group meeting to discuss the Red River of the North Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan will be hosted by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Red River Basin Commission on April 26-27, 2016, at the Homewood Suites, Fargo, ND. Erik Jones, Engineer, HEI, plans on attending. 

  • Approved Pay Request No. 1 to HCI for bufferstrip seeding on Wilkin C.D. Nos. 5A, 22, and 26. The Pay Request totals $12,655.80. 

  • Discussed the proposed 2016 Water Quality Sampling Program. A meeting was held on 04/25/16 with representatives from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, DNR, and the International Water Institute. It was discussed that four sampling sites on the Red River of the North would be dropped in 2016. For 2016, there would be 33 sampling locations. These sites were identified in the BRRWD’s 2010 RWMP as Regional Assessment Locators (RALs). In general, the BRRWD has been gathering water quality data since 2008. Bruce Albright, Office Administrator, said that all of the sampling has generated a lot of data. He felt the Board of Managers should consider getting the data posted on their website for the general public to review/understand. A proposal from HEI was reviewed that would develop and summarize water quality data for the BRRWD’s website. The total estimated budget for completing this analysis and report was $24,316.00. The Board authorized the work. Thoughts were that if we are ever going to see noticeable improvements regarding water quality, we need to engage/involve the landowners. Hopefully, a general understanding of water quality by the BRRWD citizens will help in that regard.

  • Noting that permission to survey forms continue to come in regarding proposed work on the Otter Tail River and Whiskey Creek near Kent, MN. 

  • Noting that the BRRWD intends to hold a special meeting to dedicate time to review the BRRWD proposed new Rules. Once those Rules are adopted locally, there is a 60-day review process with the counties, cities, and other local government units, including the landowners. A hearing will be required to adopt the new Rules.

  • Approved the payment of bills, totaling $52,704.25.

The next meeting of the Board of Managers, BRRWD, is scheduled for Monday, May 9, 2016, at 7:00 PM in the Barnesville office, located at 1303 4th AVE NE. All meetings are open to the public.  For more information, please visit our website at www.brrwd.org.

Water Action Week in BRRWD

On the Record for Water Action in the BRRWD

Barnesville, MN – Governor Dayton has declared April 18-22, 2016, Water Action Week in Minnesota. This week is dedicated to encouraging Minnesotans to begin the important work of establishing an ethic of clean water practices.  Throughout the week, state agencies will be promoting practices and work being done to restore and protect Minnesota’s water.

For the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), responsibly managing our water resources is a priority. The BRRWD has a local water management plan that uses both sound science and local knowledge to develop priorities that reflect our water issues.

The plan’s top priorities are:  flood plain management; flood damage reduction, rate of runoff, volume of runoff; legal drainage systems; water quality; wetlands; natural resources and recreation; ground water; erosion and sediment control; education; and long-range work planning and financing.

Minnesota’s many waters are a part of our identity.  From the water we drink, to the rivers, lakes, and streams we fish and swim and boat in, water is an economic and recreational driver.  It’s so important to Minnesotans that in 2008 we approved the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment and dedicated funding to its preservation.  Since the Amendment was passed by Minnesota voters in November 2008, more than $112 million has been invested in “on-the-ground” projects.  Citizens and local governments have installed more than 4,100 conservation practices to improve the quality in the state’s lakes, rivers, and wetlands.

Are you looking for ways you can help protect our local water resources?  The BRRWD can help.  Contact us at 218-354-7710, stop by the office at 1303 4th AVE NE, Barnesville, MN, or visit us on the web at www.brrwd.org.

Busy Meeting for BRRWD

With a parking lot full of pickups, and no measurable rain since 2015, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), wondered what was going on at their meeting held in Barnesville on Monday, April 11, 2016. There were a number of different groups that had issues they wanted to discuss with the Watershed Board.

The first issue pertained to drainage issues in and around Sections 27 and 28, Barnesville Township, Clay County. Parts of an old road (150th ST S) were removed last fall by the neighboring land renter.  The material was used to recreate a road north of a natural waterway that crosses through this area.  Landowners agreed that they would re-gravel the new road section so that it can be used by both parties.  There are several rocks that still need to be buried.  The second issue in Section 28 pertains to an old fence line located along the east-west quarter line.  The neighboring landowner to the north used a scraper last fall to haul some of the excess dirt from the fence line to a low area on his property adjacent to County State Aid Highway No. 2.  The neighboring landowner to the south felt that work was actually done on his property.  The Watershed indicated that they do not get involved with boundary line issues.  Questions were raised if part of the dirt may have been hauled into a wetland area.  The landowner assured the Board that he was well aware of the federal, state, and local wetland regulations, and that no fill was placed in the wetland.  The neighboring landowners agreed to work together on the situation.  An actual property line survey may be required.

The next group of landowners wanted to discuss the 2016 assessment made on Wilkin County Ditch (C.D.) No. 7. The Board of Managers, BRRWD, approved a $150,000 levy at their Annual Budget Hearing held in Barnesville on 08/24/15.  Those in attendance questioned why the Watershed needed that much funding.  Bruce Albright, BRRWD Administrator, explained that the Wilkin County Highway Department was planning to retrofit their drainage system in 2016.  This work includes reestablishment of the ditch gradeline, back sloping the ditch, installation of field inlet pipes, and installing the one-rod grassed buffer strips.  The County uses an average of approximately $35,000 per mile to do this type of work.  Most of the legal ditch systems in the newly added Watershed area have already been completed.  Wilkin C.D. No. 7 is approximately six miles long.  The landowners felt that the BRRWD failed to take into consideration that the drainage system already has $32,000.  Also, the Wilkin Soil and Water Conservation District picked up a grant through the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) that will help pay part of the retrofitting costs.  Landowners were concerned that the proposed $150,000 ditch levy was costing quarters of land (160 acres) almost $4,000.  The Board of Managers, BRRWD, recognized that they had made an error regarding this assessment.  A motion was approved to reduce the 2016 levy to $75,000 subject to working with the Wilkin County Auditor’s Office.  The Auditor will have to mail out revised tax statements.

A landowner questioned how the interview went with the BWSR regarding our Targeted Watershed Program funding for the Wolverton Creek Restoration Project. The interview was conducted on 03/31/16.  Bruce Albright and Erik Jones, Engineer, Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) felt the interview went well.  The BRRWD is seeking $2.8 million dollars for Phase 1 of the Restoration Project.  We should know by the end of May whether or not we were successful.  There was also a meeting held last week with the representatives from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  They may have funding available for Wolverton Creek through their Wetland Restoration Program.  Landowners would need to apply for that funding.  If approved, NRCS would pay 100% of the land acquisition costs (easements) and the construction work.

Other business included:

  • Review of the BRRWD’s Treasurer’s Report. Albright noted that this is a relatively slow time of the year. There is not much construction work going on and we are waiting for the first half of the property taxes to start coming in around June 1. The BRRWD’s account balance is $330,056.61.

  • Approval of permits to: Randy Affield to replace an 18″ diameter corrugated metal pipe (cmp) with a 24″ diameter cmp in 150th ST in the southwest corner, Section 22, Elkton Township, Clay County; Cristian Anderson to install drain tile in the bottom of a ditch so that he can cross with his farm equipment in the NE1/4, Section 1, Cromwell Township, Clay County; the City of Moorhead for their master plan work regarding new city streets, storm sewer, and a regional pond in the Horizon Shore’s Subdivision; Becker County Highway Department to replace culverts in C.R. No. 13 (200th AVE) between Sections 4 and 5, Riceville Township; Alan Hanson to install a new field approach and culvert off 220th ST S into the NE1/4, Section 34, Hawley Township, Clay County; Clay County Highway Department to add an additional culvert to the Buffalo River Crossing on 220th ST S between Sections 22 and 23, Hawley Township; Clay County Highway Department to replace an existing bridge over Hay Creek on 160th ST S between Sections 22 and 27, Elkton Township; and Clay County Highway Department to replace existing culverts on Clay C.D. No. 10 in 60th ST N between Sections 17 and 18, Morken Township.

  • Noting that the office has sent a letter regarding additional cleanout work required in a natural waterway in the NW1/4, Section 27, Manston Township, Wilkin County. Discussion regarding this area began last fall when an upstream landowner complained that the downstream landowner was farming through the waterway. HEI conducted a survey of the area in question.

  • Noting that Albright has discussed a potential new legal drainage system that would be located along the north line of Sections 5 and 6, Wolverton Township, Wilkin County, west of Trunk Highway (T.H.) No. 75. The office will draft a petition for the project.

  • Discussed a settlement offer from landowners in Oakport Township regarding a stockpile of material located on their property. The initial lease ran out 12/31/12. Attempts since then by the Watershed to negotiate a new lease have not been successful. The material will be used to complete Phase 4. We currently have a contractor onsite doing that work. The Board will contact the landowners indicating that they would like to wait to settle this issue until the dirt pile is removed and cleanup is completed. 

  • HEI will be working on a cleanup list for a few remaining items in the City of Georgetown pertaining to their flood control levee work. The list will include seeding of the ball diamond. 

  • Discussed a slumping problem on Clay C.D. No. 41 in Section 33, Oakport Township, on property owned by American Crystal Sugar Company (ACSC). A number of meetings have been held with ACSC representatives. One solution includes replacement of a culvert in a ditch crossing in the problem area, which could also address the slumping issue. If a deal can be arranged, ACSC would like to see the work done while the factory is shut down (June-August).

  • Noting that Albright has not had time to work on analyzing the petition filed for a new outlet on Clay-Wilkin Judicial Ditch No. 1. The proposed outlet would be located south of the Clay-Wilkin County line and would drain directly west into Wolverton Creek.

  • Noting that a Mediation Project Team Meeting was held on 04/07/16. The next meeting is scheduled for 06/16/16. That meeting will begin at 7:00 PM in the Barnesville office. Ongoing project discussions include the South Branch of the Buffalo River, Barnesville Township Comprehensive Study, and Stony Creek Detention.

  • Discussed the Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan (CWMP) being developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE). The CWMP is intended to help identify what could be the next generation of success stories in the Red River Basin. Thirteen goals creating a Basin Vision are being reviewed. The CWMP is being done in cooperation with the Red River Basin Commission. Goals are to have the document finished by January 2017, when it will be submitted to the Mississippi Valley Division of the COE and to Congress through the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works for any federally actionable recommendations. 

  • Authorized two miles of ditch repair surveying on Clay C.D. No. 3 starting at T.H. No. 9 and going downstream in Section 18, Spring Prairie Township and Section 13, Moland Township. 

  • Noting that letters have been sent regarding the permission to survey needed on Whiskey Creek in Wilkin County and for the Otter Tail River Project in Wilkin and Otter Tail Counties.

  • Approved the payment of bills, totaling $186,794.36.

The next meeting of the Board of Managers, BRRWD, is scheduled for Monday, April 25, 2016, at 7:00 PM in the Barnesville office, located at 1303 4th AVE NE. All meetings are open to the public.  For more information, please visit our website at www.brrwd.org.