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.