Monthly Archives: April 2017

BRRWD Amends Subdivision Permit Conditions

At their April 24, 2017, meeting held in Barnesville, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), heard concerns from The City of Glyndon and developer Kelly Richards regarding conditions the BRRWD placed on Richards’ permit (Permit No. 17-008) for the new Southview Addition Subdivision. At their 4/10/17 meeting, the Board approved the permit with the conditions that the lowest structure opening had to be built at or above elevation 925 and that any basements would need to be floodproofed. Richards objected to the “floodproofed” language. He was concerned it would discourage new home sales. During discussions, it was established that when constructed, the new subdivision will not be in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) floodplain. The Board approved an amendment to remove the “floodproofing” condition with the stipulation that the record show the request to change the conditions was made by the developer, contrary to the permit recommendation of the BRRWD’s Engineer, Erik S. Jones, Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI).

The Board also noted that several of the smaller communities in the Fargo-Moorhead area do not have a FEMA floodplain exemption for basements. In the 1970s, when Moorhead, Dilworth, and Clay County, applied for FEMA basement exemptions, Hawley, Glyndon, Comstock, Georgetown, and Barnesville decided to administer their own floodplains and didn’t file for the exemption. Jones noted that while it might be difficult for those cities to get an exemption now, it might not be impossible. Chairman Gerald L. Van Amburg suggested that cities without the exemption could contact a Congressman for help to apply to FEMA as a group.

The Board reviewed HEI’s preliminary drainage study results for a potential ditch along 220th ST, one mile south of Wilkin County Road (C.R.) No.  26, starting in Section 32, Mitchell Township, Wilkin County, running west to the Red River. Jones expects to have the final survey report ready for the next Board meeting. This study was prompted by drainage concerns regarding an ongoing tiling project issue in Section 28, Mitchell Township. The Board sent a letter to the project landowners directing them to cease operation of their tile pump until they can identify an adequate outlet and then apply for a new BRRWD permit. The neighboring landowners consider both potential outlets (Wolverton Creek and Whiskey Creek) for the tile project to be inadequate and feel that the ditch proposal will not address their concerns about the tile installation. The Board approved a motion to give the tile project landowners until the next BRRWD meeting to provide a plan to address the tile pump location, and authorized Albright to contact BRRWD Attorney Tami Norgard, Vogel Law Firm, regarding possible options.

The Board also discussed the results of Jones’s investigation to find a temporary solution to breakouts from the South Branch of the Buffalo River entering Wilkin County Ditch (C.D.) No. 13-Lateral and to help control the erosion damage on property in Section 6, Manston Township. Jones presented three alternatives: a limited channel cleanout, a larger cleanout with a two-stage channel restoration, and a comprehensive project to clean the South Branch from upstream of Trunk Highway (T.H.) No.  9 downstream to north of C.R. No. 30 in Section 29, Atherton Township, Wilkin County. All three alternatives would require a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) permit to work in protected waters, and a possible Environmental Assessment Worksheet.

Harold J. Rotunda, CPA, presented the draft BRRWD 2016 audit. Bruce E. Albright, BRRWD Administrator, will forward the draft audit to the Managers for their review and subsequent approval.

Other business included:

  • Reviewed the BRRWD’s financial status. Cash on hand is $1,613,030.97. No income was received since the 4/10/17 meeting, and the total for the year is $349,064.48. Albright has scheduled meetings with Wells Fargo Bank and First National Bank to review our financial needs.

  • Approved permits to Rob Jordahl to install an approach with an 18″ dia. corrugated metal pipe to access his property near Ness Lake in the N½NE¼, Section 1, Parke Township, Clay County, subject to Township approval to work within their road right-of-way (R/W); and Colten Tangen to install a driveway with an 18″ dia. culvert to his property near the City of Hawley off from C.R. No. 12 in the SE¼, Section 22, Hawley Township, Clay County, subject to County approval to work within their road R/W. 

  • Received a complaint from the landowners in Nordick Township, Wilkin County, regarding needed Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) buffer maintenance in the SW1/4, Section 8, Nordick Township. Trapped sediment in the CRP is backing water on the upstream property. Albright will investigate. 

  • Discussed a drainage concern regarding the downstream areas of Lein Lake in Otter Tail County. A landowner made a channel to drain pumped water to Oscar Lake. Manager Fjestad is working with the Fergus Falls DNR office and the neighboring landowners to size a pipe for the excavated channel. 

  • Discussed a drainage complaint about an approach allegedly installed near Rustad in Section 28, Kurtz Township, Clay County. HEI investigated and found that the approach is not new and is not causing the area water problems. Jones recommended that the entire mile of ditch along the Section 28 east of the railroad tracks should be cleaned to improve area drainage. Manager Anderson will conduct a field review and report to the Board at the next meeting. 

  • Received a complaint about work done by a landowner to alter/remove drain tile outlets in the W1/2NE1/4, Section 13, Audubon Township, Becker County, on his neighbor’s cropland adjacent to a farmstead he recently purchased. The Board authorized Albright to notify the individual that he will need to a plan to restore the tiling/driveway culvert, or the BRRWD will turn the matter over to the Becker County Attorney to be prosecuted as a Rule violation. 

  • Approved a motion to contribute 50% of the landowner’s costs for a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) designed grade stabilization project in Section 16, Hawley Township, Clay County, west of Maria Lake. The Clay County Soil and Water Conservation District and the NRCS contributed 75% of the project expenses. 

  • Discussed a large borrow pit that the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) created along T.H. No. 75 upstream of Whiskey Creek near Kent, MN. The pit is full and there are concerns about potential impacts to the Creek and surrounding cropland if the pit should breach. Jones will contact MNDOT regarding this issue. 

  • Approved the acquisition of temporary construction R/W along Wilkin C.D. No. 13 and C.D. No. 13-Lateral. The Board agreed to offer the ditch system landowners $250/acre for the additional temporary R/W for the proposed channel cleanout project. The temporary easement will only be needed for the 2017 construction season. 

  • Noting that the Fischer family might be interested in selling the farmhouse located on their property within the Oakport project area. During the buyout phase for the Oakport project, the Fischers were not interested in selling this property. The buyout would have to take place while the project’s DNR grant is still in effect.

  • Approved Pay Request No. 1 to States Border Construction for $70,031.07 with 5% retainage. The contractor has completed about 50% of the Wilkin C.D. No. 7 repair construction. 

  • Noting that Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources is holding public informational meeting/workshop regarding the updated Minnesota Public Drainage Manual on May 22, 2017, from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM at the Moorhead State Community and Technical College. 

  • Noting that the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts (MAWD) will hold their 2017 Summer Tour on June 21-23 in Bemidji. Attendees will tour the Leech Lake area. Managers Fjestad, Van Amburg, and Hanson plan to attend. MAWD will be voting on their By-Laws and needs a quorum of the member Watershed Districts to be able to hold the vote.

  • Approved the 2017 International Water Institute water quality monitoring contract for $15,800. 

  • Authorized hiring a contractor to open an ice block and to repair the Project No. 65, County Line Outlet structure cover. The outlet pipe through the township road is frozen shut, and water is encroaching on Adrian Haugrud’s barn. 

  • Authorized Albright to sign the 2017 fertilizer and weed control contract for the BRRWD’s office with Chris Hoppe Lawn Care Service. 

  • Approved repairs to a road used by the BRRWD’s beaver trapper to access beaver dams on Becker C.D. No. 19 on the Buffalo Lake outlet structure near Richwood. 

  • Discussed scheduling a strategic planning session after planting season to set BRRWD goals and priorities for the coming year. 

  • Approved payment of bills totaling $129,007.46.

The Board of Managers, BRRWD, will hold their next regular meeting on Monday, May 8, 2017, at 7:00 PM in the BRRWD Office, located at 1303 4th AVE NE, Barnesville, MN. All meetings are open to the public. For more information about the BRRWD, please visit our website at

BRRWD Discusses Ditch Repairs

At their April 10, 2017, meeting held in Barnesville, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), discussed several landowner requests for waterway and ditch system repairs.

The Board authorized BRRWD Administrator Bruce E. Albright to send a letter to a landowner in Section 22, Prairie View Township, Wilkin County, explaining that he will need to clean out high spots on two natural waterways through his Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage by the 06/01/17 Farm Service Agency deadline for CRP maintenance. The blockages potentially obstruct drainage from the upstream cropland in Section 23. The landowner has the option of hiring his own contractor to do the cleanout and reseeding, or the BRRWD will hire someone. Either way, the upstream landowner has agreed to pay for the work. The repairs will be done according to Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) survey recommendations.

The Board also discussed the proposed repairs for Project No. 2, Wilkin County Ditch (C.D.) No. 13 and Project No. 21, Wilkin C.D. No. 13-Lateral. Landowner Terry Czichotzki advised the Managers that there might not be enough right-of-way (R/W) along the channel alignment to complete the repairs. BRRWD Engineer Erik S. Jones, HEI, estimated that we will need approximately 30 acres of temporary construction R/W along the ditches. The Board approved a motion to offer the ditch system landowners $250/acre for the additional temporary construction R/W. The land rental is only good for the 2017 construction season, which will revert to cropland in 2018. Czichotzki also asked the Board to consider constructing a permanent dike for his house along C.D. No. 13-Lateral. Since the Project No. 56, Manston Slough Restoration, was built, he feels that the project is causing higher water levels on C.D. No. 13-Lateral at his downstream farmstead and cropland. The Board approved Czichotzki’s request for a permanent dike along his farmstead. Landowner Carolyn Swenson also discussed problems with breakouts from the South Branch of the Buffalo River across her property, which drain to C.D. No. 13-Lateral. The Board discussed Swenson’s concerns and authorized HEI to investigate a limited river channel cleanout on Swenson’s property as a temporary solution to the river breakouts entering C.D. No. 13-Lateral and to help control the erosion damage on her land.

Other business included:

  • Reviewed the BRRWD’s monthly financial report. Income since the last meeting is $20,758.48, and the total for the year $349,064.48. Cash on hand is $1,790,906.50. Administrative disbursements for the month are $39,834.46 and $116,919.59 for the year. Current accounts receivable for 2017 totals $5,949,683.55.

  • Approved permits to Marlin (Pete) Ackerson to install a 15″ dia. x 30′ long culvert in his farmstead driveway in the SE¼, Section 7, Humboldt Township, Clay County, subject to Township approval to work within their road R/W; Howard Pender to install an approach with a 24″ dia. x 52′ corrugated metal pipe to access a future grain bin site off from County Road (C.R.) No. 10 in the NW¼, Section 16, Skree Township, Clay County, subject to County approval to work within their road R/W; Thomas Jacobson to install a 12″ dia. culvert in his driveway in SE¼, Section 7, Audubon Township, Becker County; and the Deal Brothers to install tile in the N½, Section 16, Mitchell Township, Wilkin County, as a continuation of an earlier tile project by the former landowner, pending confirmation that the previous project was permitted.

  • Discussed the status of the Robert Yaggie’s tile project in Section 28, Mitchell Township, Wilkin County. At their 03/27/17 meeting, the Board approved an order to stop Yaggie’s tile pump operation until he identifies an adequate outlet and goes through the BRRWD permitting process. They also discussed the status of HEI’s preliminary drainage study for a potential legal ditch system along 220th ST, one mile south of C.R. No. 26, starting in approximately Section 32, Mitchell Township, running west to the Red River.

  • Noted that the City of Moorhead signed the Project No. 71, 50th AVE S Maintenance Agreement, and HEI submitted the online levee certification application and the Letter Of Map Revision to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for their review and approval.

  • Noted that the contractor, R. J. Zavoral & Sons, Inc., plans to start this week on the final cleanup items for Project No. 49, Oakport Flood Mitigation Project. The Fischer family has accepted the Board’s final offer for their spoil pile easement payment. FEMA received our levee certification application and will begin work on their review and approval process. 

  • Noted that HEI is working on a formal maintenance agreement for Project No. 39, Georgetown Levee, between the BRRWD and the City of Georgetown for the City’s review and approval.

  • Noted that HEI has scheduled the annual ditch inspection for Project No. 30, Clay/Wilkin Judicial Ditch (J.D.) No. 1.

  • Noted that HEI has submitted the Barnesville Township Area Drainage Investigation Concurrence Point #2 to the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) for their review.

  • Discussed potential summertime project operation scenarios regarding the Stony Creek Retention project so that landowners could still farm a portion of the temporary pool.

  • Approved a resolution to request that Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) waive the amendments to their 04/25/12 Order, which gave the BRRWD two years to update our existing Revised Watershed Management Plan (RWMP) to include the new area, or to commit to the One Watershed, One Plan (1W1P) process with the understanding that if the BRRWD does not receive BWSR funding for their 1W1P effort, we will complete our RWMP updated by November 2018, as noted in the BWSR Level II Performance Review and Assistance Program recommendations.

  • Noted that work has started on installing the new M-Files computer software for data retention. Marco, Inc. has scheduled an all-day training session for the staff on 04/18/17.

  • Noted that the contractor, States Border Construction, started on the second mile of the north-south portion of the Wilkin County Ditch No. 7 repair.

  • Noted that erosion control/bank stabilization measures and seeding will be completed this spring on the Wilkin C.D. No. 6A repair site as soon as conditions allow.

  • Adopted the MPCA Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) enforcement response procedures and standard operating procedures requirements for the MS4 area within the BRRWD.

  • Discussed problems with the Wolverton Creek Restoration project’s eligibility for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Wetlands Reserve Enhancement program. Albright will work with NRCS on this issue.

  • Noting that the COE held a two-day workshop regarding their Section 1135 Project on the Lower Otter Tail River on April 11-12 in the BRRWD’s office and a landowner informational meeting on 04/11/17 in Breckenridge.

  • Discussed the possible acquisition of two parcels of land where the Oakport Town Hall is located. The land could be used as additional R/W for future Clay C.D. No. 41 outlet maintenance and ditch realignment on the American Crystal Sugar property. HEI will investigate our R/W needs before the Board considers making an offer for the property.

  • Noted that a log jam and river bank slumping was reported on the Minnesota side of the Red River in Section 7, Holy Cross Township. BRRWD staff investigated the complaints.

  • HEI staff completed the annual inspection of the dams associated with BRRWD projects. Repairs will be done as needed, and the reports will be placed on file.

  • Authorized HEI to advertise for bids for erosion control outlet repairs on Clay C.D. No. 53 and Clay/Wilkin J.D. No. 1, which outlet to Wolverton Creek. The Wilkin Soil and Water Conservation District received BWSR funding for erosion control work along the Red River, including the installation of side inlets or grade control structures. The grant would cover 75% of the repair costs, and the remaining 25% of the costs would be paid as ditch system expenses. The repair plans for these two ditches are part of the Wolverton Creek channel restoration project design. 

  • Approved payment of bills totaling $177,875.53.

The Board of Managers, BRRWD, will hold their next regular meeting on Monday, April 24, 2017, at 7:00 PM in the BRRWD Office, located at 1303 4th AVE NE, Barnesville, MN. All meetings are open to the public. For more information about the BRRWD, please visit our website at