Monthly Archives: May 2017

BRRWD Discusses Drainage Concerns

The Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), discussed landowner drainage issues at their meeting held in Barnesville on May 22, 2017. The Board authorized Erik Jones, Engineer, Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) to investigate options in response to a landowner’s request to replace his texas crossing on Wilkin County Ditch (C.D.) No. 13-Lateral with culverts as part of the current ditch repair project. Manager Mark Anderson also agreed to contact a landowner in Section 22, Prairie View Township, to discuss the BRRWD’s request that he remove blockages in a natural waterway in his Conservation Reserve Program acreage downstream of the culverts through County Road (C.R.) No. 19.

Other business included:

  • Reviewed the BRRWD’s financial status. Cash on hand is $1,486,784.05, and income this year to date is $577,487.07. Current income for the month totals $227,634.42 from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) grant for Project No. 49, Oakport Flood Mitigation ($220,060.77) and Clay County for the Wall ST NW overlay in Oakport ($25,573.65). BRRWD Administrator Bruce Albright noted that we should start to receive the 1st half property tax proceeds by the first week in June. 

  • Approved permits to Kevin Lunde to install water and sediment control basins and underground tile in the NE1/4, Section 5, Lake Park Township, Becker County; Chad Oberg to install pattern tiling in the E1/2, Section 34, Georgetown Township, Clay County, outletting to Clay C.D. No. 5 and the Buffalo River, subject to the BRRWD’s standard tiling disclaimer; Philip Rogers to install random tiling in the E1/2, Section 5, Humboldt Township, Clay County, outletting into a Wetlands Reserve Program pasture area on his property; Kevin Fellbaum to replace an open cut channel in the SE1/4NW1/4, Section 33, Oscar Township, Otter Tail County, with a 20″ dia. smooth wall pipe to be used as a future emergency outlet for Lein Lake; Kirby Hamre to install two approaches with 36″ dia. x 50′ long culverts in the SW1/4, Section 18, Riverton Township, Clay County, along C.R. No. 72 and 28th AVE to access a new construction site, subject to Township and County approval to work within their road right-of-way; Troy Goltz to install tiling in SE1/4, Section 28, Prairie View Township, Wilkin County, outletting north to Deerhorn Creek, subject to downstream landowner approval to cross his Reinvest In Minnesota easement acreage, and approval from the Wilkin Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Board tabled approval of a permit to Robert Yaggie to relocate his project tile outlet to the east side of 180th AVE Section 28, Mitchell Township, Wilkin County. The water will drain through an existing driveway via a closed conduit to a lift station in the northwest corner of the section, then along 200th ST, eventually to Wolverton Creek. The current pump location on the east-west quarterline of Section 28 was not acceptable to the downstream landowners and was not in compliance with the applicant’s approved Permit No. 12-165. Before the BRRWD can issue the permit, a downstream landowner meeting will be held to discuss adequacy of the proposed outlet.

  • Discussed an ongoing drainage issue in Section 27, Manston Township, Wilkin County. A waterway there has been recommended for cleaning, but other agencies requested a wetland delineation. HEI has completed the delineation, and Jones is analyzing the information. 

  • Discussed a complaint regarding a tile pump that is outletting into the ditch along Trunk Highway (T.H.) No. 9 in Section 4, Manston Township, Wilkin County. Jones is working on a drainage investigation, including a review of the Minnesota Department of Transportation drainage plan for T.H. No. 9.

  • Authorized HEI to investigate a proposal to improve an existing dry approach in Section 14, Elkton Township, Clay County, to provide better access to landlocked property and to prevent Hay Creek from breaking out to the south. Before moving forward with the proposal, the Board wants to be sure the project is feasible. 

  • Agreed to schedule a field meeting to discuss complaints in the W1/2NE1/4, Section 13, Audubon Township, Becker County. Manager Hanson and Albright will meet with the affected landowners to discuss an alternate outlet proposal.

  • Noting that issues have still not been resolved regarding Project No. 77, Clay C.D. No. 51-Proposed Lateral No. 3. A lawsuit filed in that regard was scheduled for trial the week of June 12, but was recently postponed. A mediation session was uneventful.

  • Noting that the office has received complaints about weed infestation on the Phase 4 of the Oakport project area. The contractor, R. J. Zavoral & Sons, Inc., will be contacted as they are responsible for establishing the grass cover. HEI has hired a lawn service to spray the dandelions on the east dike where the grass is already established. A family located outside of the diked area has requested a buyout of their house. During the initial buyout phase of the project, they refused an offer, but now some of the family members appear to be interested. The Board won’t move forward with this proposal until all the family members agree. The Board also denied a request from a person who is interested in planting 10-15 acres of strawberries along the south side of Wall ST NW where the BRRWD has an Audubon contract for native grass seeding. The area was acquired for the project with DNR funding, and according to our grant agreement, the land can’t be used to generate income. 

  • Noting that representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) met with City of Georgetown officials on May 19, 2017, for a community assistance visit. The purpose of the visit is to maintain periodic contact with communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and to assess the effectiveness of the community’s implementation of its flood plain management regulations. FEMA found 20 potential floodplain violations within the City. FEMA has not decided how to handle the new houses with basements, but FEMA officials and the DNR do plan to work with the City of Georgetown regarding the administration of the NFIP. According the FEMA, incorporated Cities are their own floodplain administrators by default, and Georgetown would need a written agreement with Clay County to transfer that authority. 

  • Approved a billing for $33,862.50 to William Nichol Excavating, Inc. for his work to date on the repairs for Project No. 2, Wilkin C.D. No. 13 and Project No. 21, Wilkin C.D. No. 13-Lateral. 

  • Noting that a landowner informational meeting regarding repairs for Wilkin C.D. No. 15 will be held on Thursday, May 25, 2017, at 7:30 AM in the Wilkin County Environmental Office, Breckenridge. Notices were mailed to affected landowners. 

  • Noting that the Wilkin County Highway Department has completed the channel repairs on Wilkin C.D. No. 6A. The next step will be cleanup and seeding. HEI has hired B&J Landscaping to complete the seeding.

  • Discussed violations regarding the BRRWD’s wetland restoration easements in Elkton Township. The BRRWD’s attorney prepared some enforcement options to have the damages repaired at the violator’s expense.

  • Noting that the next Mediation Project Team Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 20, 2017, at 7:00 PM in the Watershed Office, Barnesville.

  • Appointed Managers Van Amburg and Hanson as the BRRWD’s delegates to attend the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts (MAWD) 2017 Summer Tour and special meeting on June 21-23 in Bemidji. Manager Fjestad will be the alternate delegate. MAWD has scheduled a special meeting to vote on their By-Laws, specifically to look at their dues structures. 

  • Noted that BRRWD Viewer Lauren Peterson has announced his retirement after 28 years of service. The Board plans to recognize his service by presenting Peterson with a plaque commemorating his contributions to the BRRWD. In the late 1950s, Peterson was instrumental in organizing the South Buffalo Watershed District, which was the precursor to the current Buffalo-Red River Watershed District. 

  • Received the 2016 Annual Report and Audit for review and approval at the next BRRWD meeting. 

  • Authorized Jones to submit a funding application to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council Conservation Partners Legacy Grants Program for the South Branch of the Buffalo River stream restoration project near Barnesville. The application deadline is 5/31/17, and the proposed funding request of $1.7 million would be used for engineering and construction costs. The project would restore 4.6 miles of South Branch of the Buffalo River channel with 100 acres of associated riparian habitat corridor and additional stream restoration of the straightened stream/river channel along the South Branch. Clay and Wilkin County SWCDs have provided letters of recommendations for our application. 

  • Received a Thank You letter from the Area I Envirothon Committee for the BRRWD’s financial support of their event. Albright served as a judge for the oral presentations. 

  • Noting that a bid opening is scheduled for erosion control outlet repairs on Clay C.D. No. 53 and Clay/Wilkin Judicial Ditch No. 1 on 6/7/17 at 10:00 AM in the Fargo HEI office. 

  • Authorized HEI to expand their contract with the Minnesota Soybean Growers to include the work being done in the BRRWD to provide more resources for our study associated with our 2017 Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources Clean Water Fund Accelerated Implementation Grant program for Prioritizing Targeting Marketing Application and the Streambank Geomorphic to determine how to manage hydrology for improved water quality benefits. The Managers agreed to partner with the Soybean Growers and acknowledge their participation in return for their collaboration in the study. 

  • Approved a request from homeowners on Buffalo and Rice Lakes for cattail removal in the channel between the two lakes to be paid as a ditch system expense on a trial basis for the 2017 season. 

  • Approved payment of bills totaling $43,806.40.

The Board of Managers, BRRWD, will hold their next regular meeting on Monday, June 12, 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 www.brrwd.org.

BRRWD Approved River Watch Funding

Nate Strand, Barnesville River Watch Instructor, along with two of his students, updated the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), at their meeting held in Barnesville on May 8, 2017. Strand presented a budget of $5,500.32 to continue the program through the 2017-2018 school year. Last year, the Barnesville School District picked up $2,000 of those costs. Barnesville River Watch will be sampling at seven locations for the BRRWD during the 2017 season. Strand indicated that this summer, he will be attending a workshop regarding the use of remote sensors. Xavier Kadrmas and Brandon Holte, students involved with the River Watch program, said they enjoy providing information that the BRRWD can use. Both students are interested in pursuing careers in engineering, and they feel their field work with River Watch will be a useful tool. They also enjoy being part of a team. Strand indicated that he would be recruiting approximately six students to be involved with River Watch for the upcoming year. Barnesville River Watch also helps at the River Festival put on by River Keepers in September of each year. The Watershed Board approved the proposed 2017-2018 budget.

Other business included:

  • Reviewed the BRRWD’s financial status. Administrative costs to date total $184,349.68. Bruce Albright, Administrator, noted that those costs include some one-time expenditures, including the computer upgrades/M-Files, 2017 Performance Review and Assistance Program, and permit archiving. Cash on hand is $1,484,811.68. The accounts receivable report for 2017 totals just short of $6 million.

  • Continued discussion regarding an outlet for a tile system installed in the fall of 2016 in Section 28, Mitchell Township, Wilkin County. Albright has met with the tiling company and tile owner. They are considering three different possible relocation points for the lift station/pump. One of the outlets would be to the north, sending all the water into the Wolverton Creek system. The other two options would be to move the outlet closer to County State Aid Highway (CSAH) No. 26 where the water would go west and south to Whiskey Creek by Kent, MN. At a previous meeting, the Board of Managers asked the tile owner to not operate the system until an adequate outlet is secured. Once a permit application is filed for relocating the outlet, the Watershed Office will take of notifying the downstream landowners.If the tile outlet is going to be moved to drain north, then the Watershed should address downstream landowner concerns regarding adequacy of the outlet. The outlet to the north is Wolverton Creek. The BRRWD has plans for a complete channel restoration of this system. The first phase of the work was going to start near the Clay-Wilkin County line and continue upstream to County Road (C.R.) No. 30. To insure an adequate outlet for the proposed tile lift station, Albright suggested that the restoration project could start at the upstream end and continue downstream for approximately two miles. Erik Jones, Engineer, Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI), has looked at what it would take to do a proposed project in Sections 17 and 18, Mitchell Township, Wilkin County. His cost estimate was $523,462.25. The Ecofootprint Grant from Enbridge Pipeline for the Wolverton Creek Restoration Project will expire at the end of 2017. Albright thought that this could be a place where we could spend some of that money before the expiration date.Also, as a part of trying to find an adequate outlet for the tiling project, HEI has completed their investigation for a possible new ditch along 220th ST in Sections 31 and 32, Mitchell Township, Wilkin County. One outlet for this area would be to the south to Whiskey Creek. Alternative Nos. 2 and 3 look at other outlet options. Jones’ report also looks at proposed culvert sizes. The alternatives have cost estimates, as well as advantages and disadvantages of each proposal. Whether the proposed ditch system would go into Whiskey Creek or straight west into the Red River of the North, grade control will be needed on either outlet. Estimated project cost for Alternative No. 1 is $1.2-$1.4 million. Jones figured that Alternative Nos. 2 and 3 would cost more money. Later this summer, the BRRWD could hold an informational meeting with the affected landowners. It will be up to the landowners to determine if they want to petition for a new legal drainage system, would like to install the proposed ditch via the BRRWD’s permitting system, or do nothing at all.

  • Approved permits to Joel Crabtree for water and sediment control basins in the NW1/4, Section 30, Lake Park Township, Becker County; Carey Danielson for tiling in Sections 7, 17, and 18, Trondhjem Township, Otter Tail County; Rick Reep to lower four approach culverts in and around the City of Lawndale to provide better drainage; Robert Braton to install an approach with a 18″ diameter (dia.) culvert along CSAH No. 52 in Section 29, Prairie View Township, Wilkin County; Robert Braton to regrade the ditch along CSAH No. 52 in Section 29, Prairie View Township, to flow north to Deerhorn Creek; Charles Okeson to install water and sediment control basins in the SE1/4SW1/4, Section 4, Richwood Township, Becker County; and Bruce Nelson for a wetland restoration in the SE1/4, Section 11, Lake Park Township, Becker County.

  • Reviewed a survey provided by HEI for drainage along the railroad tracks in Section 28, Kurtz Township, Clay County. At the last meeting, a local homeowner filed a complaint about an alleged approach that may not have a culvert and was blocking water along her property. The area is supposed to drain north into Clay County Ditch No. 40. The survey shows that the entire mile of ditch should be cleaned and some approach culverts may need to be adjusted. BRRWD Manager Mark Anderson, who farms in the area, will share the survey with his neighbors. Later this fall, they will file a BRRWD permit application to do the work as noted.

  • Discussed a complaint regarding a tile pump that is outletting into the ditch along Trunk Highway No. 9 in Section 4, Manston Township, Wilkin County. HEI will investigate which way the drainage is supposed to flow. Providing an adequate outlet for the tile pump may require some cleaning within the Minnesota Department of Transportation right-of-way (R/W).

  • Discussed a pumping issue from Lein Lake, located in Section 32, Oscar Township, Otter Tail County. The county has been running two 6″ pumps to try to keep the water off from their C.R. No. 10. The water drains into a low area and eventually into Lake Oscar. The farmer had to cut a swale for the water to flow into Lake Oscar. Otter Tail County will furnish a culvert so that the farmer can continue to cross in this area. Jones recommended a 24″ dia. pipe. Otter Tail Manager Peter Fjestad said that the County will be applying for a BRRWD permit to install the culvert.

  • Discussed an ongoing drainage issue in Section 27, Manston Township, Wilkin County. A waterway there has been recommended for cleaning, but other agencies have now determined there may be wetlands in the area. A wetland delineation should be completed. The Board authorized HEI to conduct said delineation.

  • Noting that issues have still not been resolved regarding Project No. 77, Clay C.D. No. 51-Proposed Lateral No. 3. A lawsuit filed in that regard is scheduled for trial the week of June 12. A mediation session was uneventful.

  • Noting that a family located on the Oakport Flood Control Levee Project has requested a buyout of their house. This was considered several years ago with the Fischer family. Albright will check into the current market value. Audubon Dakota will be onsite on May 12, 2017, to do more native grass plantings in and around Phase 4. The National Audubon Society 2017 Convention is scheduled for July 14-17, 2017, in Park City, Utah. Audubon Dakota will be giving a presentation titled “The River is Wild: Tackling Riparian Restoration Within City Limits“, which is focused around the urban conservation work being done in the Fargo-Moorhead area with a diverse group of partners, including the BRRWD.

  • Noting that representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be meeting with City of Georgetown officials on May 19, 2017, for a community assistance visit. The purpose of the visit is to maintain periodic contact with communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program and to assess the effectiveness of the community’s implementation of its flood plain management regulations. This issue arose when Josh Wambach tried to acquire flood insurance for his relocated house in conjunction with the BRRWD’s levee project. Jones indicated that he plans to attend the FEMA meeting.

  • Discussed the status of the repairs for Wilkin C.D. Nos. 13 and 13-Lateral. Albright indicated that one landowner did return his temporary R/W payment check. He said based on the informational meeting held earlier this year, this landowner did not want the ditch cleaned nor figured it was necessary. He questioned why the BRRWD was continuing to move ahead with the work. The survey completed by HEI shows that the ditch requires cleaning. Albright will continue to try to work with this individual. If permission cannot be attained, the spoil will need to be piled up within the existing ditch R/W on his property.

  • Noting that the next Mediation Project Team Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 20, 2017, at 7:00 PM in the Watershed Office, Barnesville.

  • Noting that the BRRWD has applied for a grant through the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR) for a One Watershed, One Plan (1W1P). The BWSR will take up the 1W1P proposals at their June 28 meeting. The BRRWD has asked for a waiver from a 04/25/12 BWSR order that the newly added areas within the BRRWD (Wilkin and Otter Tail Counties) should be added to the plan within two years. The BWSR North Region Committee will meet in September and that would be the time when they would waive this requirement if the BRRWD is selected for a 1W1P.

  • Noting that office staff continues to work with MARCO regarding the installation of M-Files on the Watershed’s computers. The new software should improve efficiency and maximize the reusability of information. Because of M-Files unique metadata-driven architecture, we should be able to find the right document instantly with a simple keyword search.

  • Noting that a landowner informational meeting regarding repairs for Wilkin C.D. No. 15 will be held on Thursday, May 25, 2017, at 7:30 AM in the Wilkin County Environmental Office, Breckenridge. Notices were mailed to affected landowners.

  • Noting that the office has received BWSR’s Advisory Report for the Engineer’s Design Report for the Wolverton Creek Restoration Project. Their comments are the report appears to present a practical plan and to fulfill the applicable requirements of Minnesota Statues Annotated 103D.711, Subd. 2. Albright said that office still needs to set up the project hearing where we can discuss the project concepts, as well as adopting the proposed watershed management district that will be used to provide local funding for the project.

  • Noting violations regarding the BRRWD’s wetland restoration easements in Elkton Township. The office has contacted the BRRWD’s attorney for procedures that can correct this situation at the violator’s expense.

  • Approved payment of bills totaling $225,662.05.

The Board of Managers, BRRWD, will hold their next regular meeting on Monday, May 22, 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 www.brrwd.org.