Monthly Archives: March 2019

BRRWD Continues FM Diversion Discussions

At their regular meeting held on March 25, 2019, in Barnesville, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), met again with another large crowd of citizens interested in the Fargo-Moorhead (FM) Diversion Authority’s (DA) BRRWD permit application, filed with the BRRWD on 1/28/19. One landowner who owns property in Wolverton, Deerhorn, and Mitchell Townships, Wilkin County, commented that the BRRWD should prepare a listing of all potential property impacts to include in our Diversion permit conditions. He felt that the Army Corps of Engineers hasn’t anticipated everything in their mitigation plan, and if not addressed now, the problems will end up coming back on the BRRWD. The Board has scheduled a special public meeting on April 23, 2019, at 7:00 PM in the Dilworth Community Center regarding the FM DA’s permit application, where all who wish to speak will be allowed ample time to do so.

The BRRWD staff is working with the Cities of Wolverton and Comstock, and Holy Cross Township to set up meetings to discuss DA project impacts. The BRRWD also met with the City of Georgetown on 3/27/19 to discuss 2019 flood preparations.

BRRWD Administrator Albright and Managers Leitch, Anderson, and Fjestad traveled to St. Paul on 3/15/19 to meet with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) representatives regarding the contested case. They discussed the BRRWD’s questions about the DNR’s permit conditions. If the BRRWD continues with the contest in conjunction with the other contesting parties (Wolverton and Comstock), Albright explained the BRRWD will be required to submit documents defining our issues for the Office of Administration Hearing.

Other business included:

  • Reviewed the BRRWD’s financial status. Cash on hand is $3,173,182.30. Total income since the 3/11/19 meeting was $7,267.56 from the Red River Watershed Management Board for Mediation Project Team (PT) expenses. Total income to date is $1,139,809.99. The Board approved bills totaling $71,596.48.

  • Approved permits to Shawn Norman to install pattern tile in the NW¼ and the W½NE¼, Section 23, Manston Township, Wilkin County, outletting via gravity flow to an existing tile project Norman installed last year, draining to County Ditch Nos. 44, 13, and 13-Lateral, to which the property is assessed; and Heritage Homes to install a driveway/culvert for a new single family construction on the south side of County Road No. 67 in the SE¼, Section 7, Elmwood Township, Clay County (100 4th AVE W near Sabin), subject to County approval to work within their road right-of-way (R/W) with the requirement that the culvert be placed on grade to match the existing upstream and downstream culvert elevations/sizes.

  • Received an update on Project No. 79, Wolverton Creek Restoration. The office has sent a second round of Phase II letters to landowners who didn’t respond after the first mailing to encourage them to sign their temporary easements. Phase I construction will start again as soon as conditions allow this spring. The Wilkin County Soil and Water Conservation Districts will be able to move forward with the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program signups for Phases I and II as soon as the Farm Bill Conservation Reserve Program funding details are completed. 

  • Approved additional temporary construction easement payments for the Phase I Wolverton Creek Restoration project on an annual basis to landowners in areas where no construction was completed in 2018. Because of inclement weather last fall, the Board granted the contractor an extension until June 15, 2019, to finish their work.

  • The Clay County Commissioners approved a bond sale resolution for the Project No. 78, Clay/Wilkin Judicial Ditch (J.D.) No. 1-Improvement at their 3/19/19 meeting. Bond sale proceeds should be available by June 2019. Landowner R/W payments will be mailed in the next few weeks. R/W staking will start as soon as conditions allow, and landowners are asked to refrain from planting in those areas in 2019. The preconstruction meeting with the contractor, Dennis Drewes, Inc., will be scheduled in the near future. 

  • Albright gave testimony before the House Capital Investment Committee regarding funding for the Stony Creek Restoration project last week. Representative Paul Marquart sponsored the Stony Creek bill. Albright also testified with Representative Jeff Backer for funding for the 220th ST Drainage and Flood Control project in Wilkin County. 

  • Noted that the Judge in the Norby Lawsuit upheld the BRRWD’s motion for a summary judgement, so the 4/11/19 court date has been cancelled. 

  • Approved the acquisition of R/W for the Wilkin-Otter Tail J.D. No. 2 outlet repair project at the rate of up to $300/acre. A Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources grant has been obtained for the repairs. Viewers have been appointed to redetermine benefits for the ditch system. A J.D. No. 2 Ditch Committee meeting has been scheduled for 4/2/19 in Fergus Falls at 1:30 PM. 

  • Noted that a Joint One Watershed, One Plan Advisory Committee/Planning Team meeting was held on 3/27/19, and a Planning Team meeting was held on 4/1/19. A Policy Committee meeting is scheduled for 4/24/19. 

  • Discussed flood preparations for Georgetown, Oakport Township, and Kragnes, including gate closures, gauge monitoring, pumping operations, and possible road closures. 

  • Scheduled the next Mediation PT meeting for 4/18/19 at 1:30 PM in the Barnesville office. 

  • Noted that the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts Summer Tour will be held in Moorhead on June 26-28, 2019. 

  • The BRRWD Advisory Committee annual meeting has been scheduled for 4/26/19 at 2:00 PM in the BRRWD office in Barnesville.

The Board of Managers, BRRWD, will hold their next meeting on Monday, April 8, 2019, 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 Hosts Full House

The Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), had a standing room only crowd of nearly 100 attendees at their regular meeting on March 11, 2019, in their Barnesville office. The main issue that attracted so many citizens was the Fargo-Moorhead (FM) Diversion Authority’s (DA) permit application, recently filed with the BRRWD. Representatives from the DA, Clay County, Cass County, Wilkin County, the Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority, the MNDAK Upstream Coalition, landowners, homeowners, and a contingency of FM realtors all made statements both for and against approval of a BRRWD permit for the Diversion project. The other issue the audience commented on was the BRRWD’s recent decision to request a contested case hearing regarding the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) decision to issue a conditional permit for the Diversion Project. Many landowners from the upstream staging area south of Fargo spoke in support of the BRRWD’s actions, while others who work or live in the FM area encouraged the Board to drop their case and to address any issues through the BRRWD permitting process. Because of the intense public interest that the Diversion permit application has generated, the Board decided to schedule a permit hearing where each side will be given 60 minutes to present their arguments. Notices will be published when an appropriately sized venue is located. The Board also plans to conduct a field review of the project area.

Board members will meet with the authors of the DNR’s Diversion permit on March 15, 2019, in St. Paul to discuss the BRRWD’s contested case. The Board also authorized BRRWD President Jay A. Leitch to sign a Rule 408 Agreement, which states that any information that either party provides during their upcoming meeting can’t be used in the actual contested case proceeding.

Kevin Campbell, Clay County Commissioner and Vice Chair of the DA, reported to the Board that the Minnesota-Clay County Joint Powers Agreement (MCCJPA) is still in draft form. As a member of the Minnesota Land Committee, President Leitch will be able to comment on the draft, even though the BRRWD decided to decline a full membership in the MCCJPA.

The Board discussed potential Diversion project impacts to the Cities of Georgetown, Comstock, and Wolverton and agreed that we should be able to address those concerns through conditions the BRRWD places on the Diversion permit.

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 $3,404,296.18. Administrative disbursements this month equal $19,028.32 and to date, total $60,135.45. Current 2019 accounts receivable are $6,088,936. Total income this year is $1,132,542.40. Income received since the 2/11/19 meeting totaled $91,773.50, primarily from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources for the second payment from our 2017 Clean Water Fund PTMApp and Geomorphology Accelerated Implementation grant ($67,500) and a payment from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for our Otter Tail River Planning 319 Grant ($20,437.73). The balance of the income came from the Midwest Bank accounts interest ($3,910.77) and Houston Engineering, Inc. monthly office rent ($225). The Board authorized staff to work with Midwest Bank to setup an Insured Cash Sweep account, which pays a higher interest rate (2.39%) and could allow the money to be FDIC insured while keeping the funds available for Midwest Bank to use locally. The Board also approved the payment of bills, totaling $238,381.47. 

  • Approved a request for $63,924.19 from the Wilkin Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to provide funding for erosion repairs on DNR protected waters in Wilkin County in conjunction with the State 2015 Buffer Strip Initiative. Both the BRRWD and Wilkin County received Riparian Aid Grant funding for the last three years to be used for water quality and riparian resource protection. The BRRWD still had some of this funding available from the Wilkin County appropriations. 

  • Approved permits to the Wilkin County Highway Department to replace a bridge in the SE¼, Section 2, McCauleyville Township, with a 10′ x 4′ precast concrete box culvert and end sections; the Clay County Highway Department to grade and resurface 15th AVE N in Moorhead from 34th ST N to County State Aid Highway No. 9 in Section 34, Oakport Township; Arvig Communications to install fiber optic cables from Trunk Highway No. 9 east along the north side of 90th AVE N for 0.5 miles, subject to our standard utility disclaimer; and Trent and Craig Seter to install a crossing with 48″ dia. culvert or equivalent arch pipe over a natural waterway in the northwest corner of the NW¼NE¼, Section 35, Riverton Township, Clay County, to access their pastureland, subject to purchasing credits to mitigate and wetland impacts.

  • Received an update on Project No. 79, Wolverton Creek Restoration. Phase 2 easements have been forwarded to the landowners. Letters have been sent to landowners who didn’t respond after the first mailing to encourage them to complete the temporary easement acquisition process. 

  • Awarded the Project No. 78, Clay/Wilkin Judicial Ditch No. 1-Improvement, construction contract to Dennis Drewes, Inc. for their low bid of $937,590. The total project cost is estimated to be $1,662,408. The Clay County Commissioners will consider a bond sale resolution for the project at their 3/19/19 meeting. 

  • Approved the revised BRRWD Bylaws. 

  • Noted that the Managers plan to attend the Red River Watershed Management Board’s (RRWMB) Annual Drainage Conferenced on March 19, 2019 and the RRWMB/Red River Basin Flood Damage Reduction Work Group 21st Annual Joint Conference on March 20-21, 2019. Both events will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Moorhead.

The Board of Managers, BRRWD, will hold their next meeting on Monday, March 25, 2019, 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.

 

Special Meeting-Executive Session on March 6, 2019

A special meeting of the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District will be held on Tuesday, March 6, 2019, from 1:00 PM at Vogel Law Firm, 218 NP Avenue, Fargo ND.

 Proposed Agenda

Call Meeting to Order – 1:00 PM

Approval of Agenda

Action Items 

Permits:

  • F-M Diversion Authority Revised Project-Litigation for DNR permit contest

Next Meeting-Monday, March 11, 2019, 7:00 PM, Barnesville.

Adjournment

John E. Hanson, Secretary