Monthly Archives: March 2018

BRRWD Reviews F-M Diversion “Plan B”

The Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD) held their regular meeting on Monday, March 26, 2018, at 7:00 PM in Barnesville. Representatives from the Fargo-Moorhead (F- M) Diversion Authority (DA) presented an overview of their revised Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Diversion permit application, or “Plan B”. Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams and Engineer Robert Zimmerman both made presentations regarding the new plan.

Mayor Williams explained that when the DNR did not approve the original Diversion permit application, a Governors’ Task Force, a Technical Advisory Group (TAG), and a Policy Group, were formed to provide input and to reach a consensus regarding revisions to the F-M Diversion plans. Representatives from Richland and Wilkin Counties were added to the TAG and Policy Groups to allow them more participation in the decision-making process. The TAG key recommendations were to strive for balanced flood protection and impacts, minimize acres removed from the floodplain, minimize newly impacted acreage and structures, minimize impacts in Wilkin and Richland Counties (640 acres or less), and consider the economics of a revised plan.

Moorhead Engineer Zimmerman provided a more detailed description of Plan B that still includes the diversion ditch to route water around the Fargo-Moorhead metro area and the southern embankment, but the southern embankment has been significantly redesigned to balance project impacts between North Dakota and Minnesota and to reduce rural impacts upstream in Richland and Wilkin Counties. The height of the river through Fargo during project operation has been raised from 35′ to 37′. The revised project would only be operated 1 in 20 years, instead of the earlier plan operation of 1 in 10 years (based on historical data). The addition of the eastern and western tie-back levees and repositioning the southern embankment further north in Minnesota will eliminate the proposed ringdike for the City of Comstock and the need to raise the Burlington Northern/Sante Fe Railroad/Trunk Highway (T.H.) No. 75, and significantly reduces impacts on organic farms (down 90%) and upstream cemeteries. Plan B balances project impacts so the staging area acreage reflects the proposed protected acreage: approximately 80% (ND) to 20% (MN). Pre-task force proposed splits were 80%/20% protected acres with 58% (ND)/42% (MN) impacts. Plan B shifts more of the staging area impacts to North Dakota, which is in line with the estimated “protected” acreage. In addition, the duration and depth of water for the 100-year event has been shifted further into North Dakota, and the revised plan reduces the overall upstream staging area for the 100-year event by approximately 7,000 acres. The DA is in the second permit submittal phase for the project development. The next steps include community outreach and the public comment period. There are also several items that will be addressed for the technical and financial aspects of the project: easement valuation, mitigation planning, alignment micro-siting, a new cost estimate, and funding and financial planning.

Other business included:

  • Reviewed the BRRWD’s financial status. Cash on hand is $1,773,423.74. There was no income since the 3/12/18 meeting. Total 2018 income to date is $257,495.47. Albright noted that the office will send invoices to the landowners on the Accounts Receivable list to try to clean up those old outstanding debts. The Board approved a motion to close our Wells Fargo banking accounts. The Managers also approved the payment of bills totaling $15,764.51. 

  • Approved permits to the City of Dilworth for the construction of the Keystone 1st Addition and 4th AVE/14th ST improvements in the NE¼, Section 1, Moorhead Township, Clay County, subject to verification of Clay County Ditch (C.D.) No. 41-Lateral No. 1 ditch bottom elevation/geometry, and verification and, if necessary, restoration of the Eastview Subdivision Pond overflow to the T.H. No. 10 road ditch, eventually to C.D. No. 50; and Oberg Family Farms to install tile in the NW¼, Section 30, Morken Township, Clay County, outletting on the north section line to Clay C.D. No. 59 to which the land is assessed, subject to our standard tiling disclaimer and the installation of a maximum of two outlets.

  • Received a complaint from a landowner in Section 5, Elkton Township, Clay County, regarding water backing up onto his property from a blocked field lateral on his neighbor’s property, which is the outlet for his farmyard drainage. The staff will field verify the complaint, and if necessary, they will notify the downstream landowner that he needs to properly maintain his ditch. 

  • Noting that Humboldt Township had to patch a washout on one of the Pearl View Estates driveway culverts crossing Whisky Creek off T.H. No. 34 east of Barnesville on 3/23/18. The Township plans to repair the crossing this spring when conditions allow. The BRRWD will assist Humboldt Township to file the necessary paperwork if a DNR permit is required for the work.

  • Noted that a meeting with Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources has been scheduled on 4/3/18 in Detroit Lakes to discuss the Wolverton Creek Memorandum of Understanding, which would give the BRRWD access to the Reinvest In Minnesota lands within the Wolverton Creek Restoration project boundaries for construction. Erik S. Jones, Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI), provided an update of the project development and easement acquisition process.

  • Noted that a meeting has been scheduled to discuss the Stinking Lake project and 2018 operation with the DNR in their Detroit Lakes office on April 3, 2018, at 9:00 AM. 

  • Noted that Managers Jay A. Leitch (Delegate) and Peter V. Fjestad (Alternate) have been appointed to serve on the One Watershed, One Plan Policy Committee. 

  • Approved Lowell Deedee’s request for a $1,500 stipend from the BRRWD to cover the costs for chemistry analysis of his water samples in 2018. Deedee is independently monitoring several sites not on our water quality monitoring list in Becker County. 

  • Authorized HEI to conduct a survey to find where the breakouts are occurring along approximately two miles of the south bank of Wilkin C.D. No. 40 in Section 1, Manston Township, and Section 6, Tanberg Township, Wilkin County. 

  • Approved Resolution 2018-03-26 #1, authorizing a Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) funding application for $1.75 million for the Stony Creek Comprehensive Project, which is due 4/11/18. The BRRWD is waiting for LCCMR comments on our draft application. 

  • Discussed adding more members to the Advisory Committee. Arvid Thompson, who has been a member of the Advisory Committee and a BRRWD Viewer for nearly 35 years, recently notified the office that he plans to retire from both positions. The office is preparing a commemorative plaque to present to Thompson in appreciation for his years of service. 

The Board of Managers, BRRWD, will hold their next regular meeting on Monday, April 9, 2018, 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 Authorizes Stony Creek Funding Application

At their meeting held on Monday, March 12, 2018, at 7:00 PM in Barnesville, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), received a draft benefit analysis from Erik S. Jones, Engineer, Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) for the Stony Creek Comprehensive Project. Jones included several items in the analysis: agricultural flood damages, increased land value, structure flood damages, infrastructure costs based on past Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) damages, non-FEMA damages, increased wetlands from the stream restoration, increased wetlands within the project, water quality, land-use changes, field erosion reduction, and Clay County Ditch (C.D.) No. 31 repair savings. Jones estimated $67,740,629.42 in benefits. Given an estimated project cost of $13,981,747.00, the benefit/cost ratio is 4.845. The Board agreed that the project should provide enough benefits to move forward with the search for funding, landowner meetings, and design. Jones was authorized to submit a Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources funding application for $1.75 million, highlighting the stream restoration features along Stony Creek. If approved, funding wouldn’t be available until July 2019. Land acquisition in the easement corridor could be funded in part by the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. The Board also authorized BRRWD Administrator Bruce E. Albright to pursue state bonding for this project if the opportunity should arise.

Landowner Chuck Anderson asked the Board to schedule a meeting with the project landowners before spring field work begins to discuss easement values. The Managers will meet with HEI staff on 3/22/18 for a demonstration on how the Taff Easement Value Calculator could be applied to Stony Creek.

Other business included:

  • Reviewed the BRRWD’s monthly financial statements, including the project account balance sheet, administrative disbursements, summary of income, and the accounts receivable report. Cash on hand is $1,937,911.12. Administrative disbursements for the month are $38,966.20, and for the year total $68,104.46. Current 2018 accounts receivable totals $5,953,231. Our total income for the year is $257,495.47. Income since the 2/12/18 meeting was $162,817.83 from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) FY18 Drainage Records Grant ($25,000), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Otter Tail River Planning 319 Grant ($17,621.94), Buffer Initiative Aid payments from Becker ($15,050) and Clay ($52,691) Counties, the Wilkin Soil and Water Conservation District reimbursement for Whiskey Creek Enhancement ($51,108.44). The balance of the income came from a Red River Basin Commission conference registration refund, Albright’s witness fee/mileage payment, Agassiz Valley Grain LLC office rental, and HEI office rent. Cash on hand is $1,906,200.73. Approved the payment of bills totaling $164,487.38.

  • Approved permits to Roger Hansen for an approach/36″ dia. culvert for a new house off County Road No. 21 in the S½SE¼, Section 28, Barnesville Township, Clay County, subject to County approval to work in their road right-of-way (R/W); the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to replace a water control structure in the east basin of a United States Fish and Wildlife Service Wetlands Reserve Program easement in the E½, Section 6, Norwegian Grove Township, Otter Tail County; City of Moorhead for the construction of a roadway/railway underpass (grade separation) at the intersection of SE Main AVE (Old Highway 52) and 20th/21st ST in Moorhead, including a stormwater lift station near the low point along 20th/21st Street to route stormwater from the underpass to Clay C.D. No. 47; Arvig Enterprises, Inc. for the installation of fiber optic lines along road R/Ws with 5′ minimum of cover when going under road beds using directional boring or vibratory plow in various locations within the BRRWD boundaries in Spring Prairie, Cromwell, Moland, Glyndon, Riverton, Hawley, Elmwood, Skree, and Elkton Townships, subject to our standard utility disclaimer and a location map showing where the facilities will cross BRRWD ditch systems/projects; Robert Faulkner to install pattern tiling in the SE¼, Section 22, Manston Township, Wilkin County, outletting via a lift station, on the south quarterline through 200th ST to a natural waterway in the NE¼, Section 27, Manston Township, eventually entering the Manston Slough project, subject to our standard tiling disclaimer and township approval to work within their road R/W; and Bruce Yaggie to install pattern tiling in the SE¼, Section 32, Nilsen Township, Wilkin County, outletting via a lift station to the north side of State Highway No. 210 to Wilkin C.D. No. 37, subject to our standard tiling disclaimer and State permission to work within their road R/W. The Board postponed action on permits for Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club pending the results of a meeting on 3/15/18 with the NRCS, applicant, and neighboring landowners; Paul Daugherty pending more information regarding the outlet; and Jeff Holt pending receipt of the downstream notification form.

  • Received a summary report from the Assistant Administrator Hiring Committee. The Committee asked HEI to provide information regarding Human Resources overhead charges for the current HEI office and engineering staff. They should also present a proposal for staffing the new position.

  • Noted that the MPCA has scheduled a kickoff meeting with the BRRWD on Monday, March 19, 2018, from 1:00-3:00 PM in our Barnesville office to start the next Total Maximum Daily Load/Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy studies for the Buffalo River and Upper Red River watersheds in 2019-2020. A meeting is also scheduled later that same day (3:00 PM) with the International Water Institute, River Watch, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to discuss coordinating our 2018 monitoring efforts. 

  • Noted that the annual Advisory Committee meeting has been scheduled for Friday, March 23, 2018, at 1:30 PM in the BRRWD office.

  • Noted that the Red River Watershed Management Board and the Red River Basin Flood Damage Reduction Work Group are holding their 20th Annual Joint Conference on March 21-22, 2018, at the Courtyard by Marriott, Moorhead, MN. A Technical Seminar is planned for Tuesday, March 20, 2018, starting at 1:30 PM. A tour of some of the projects around Moorhead is scheduled for Wednesday morning, including the Oakport area. 

  • Noted that representatives from the Diversion Authority plan to attend the BRRWD’s 3/26/18 meeting to present an update of the project. 

  • The Board reviewed their 2018 short, intermediate, and long term workplan. Short term objectives (0-6 months) include updates of both the BRRWD Rules and Bylaws, finalizing Phase 1 landowner easements and opening construction bids for the Wolverton Creek project, completing the Buffer Law effort for the legal drainage systems, and submitting the One Watershed, One Plan Workplan and Budget to BWSR for approval. 

The Board of Managers, BRRWD, will hold their next regular meeting on Monday, March 26, 2018, 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.