BRRWD Receives Aquatic Invasive Species Update

At their 12/14/15 meeting held in Barnesville, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), received an update from Spencer McGrew, Red River Basin Commission (RRBC) regarding the northwest Minnesota regional Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) prevention pilot. McGrew presented a 2015 survey the RRBC completed, titled “Riparian Audience Knowledge, Attitude, and Interest.”  The survey was mailed to landowners on Cormorant Lake in Becker County and Rose Lake in Otter Tail County.  In addition, an electronic version of this survey was made available at three lakes area businesses in Becker and Otter Tail Counties.  Over 350 responses were received.  Respondents’ attitudes towards management of AIS were both supportive and positive in nature.  The survey respondents also felt there was a need for more access restrictions, inspection of all watercrafts leaving infested waters, supporting “rapid response” strategies to chemically treat newly infested waters, and supporting efforts to place a higher priority for decision making on protecting lakes over recreation and lake shore resident interests.  In 2014, the BRRWD agreed to support the RRBC’s efforts regarding AIS with a $5,000 annual contribution.  RRBC secured a grant in the amount of $219,000 from the Legislative/Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources to work on the project.

Other business included:

  • Discussed several recent complaints and possible violations, which include removal of a dry approach in the NE¼ of Section 10, Deerhorn Township, Wilkin County, extending a ditch onto another person’s property in Section 11, Atherton Township, Wilkin County, and a drainage complaint in Sections 27 and 34, Manston Township, Wilkin County. It was noted that a long standing drainage dispute regarding drain tile in Section 23, Hamden Township, Becker County has now been resolved. The landowner, in accordance with the BRRWD’s order, has removed the tile plug. A survey has also been completed by Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) regarding drainage along the county line west of Trunk Highway No. 75 between Wolverton and Holy Cross Townships. The next step will be for the BRRWD to invite the affected landowners to an informational meeting (date to be set).

  • Approved the BRRWD’s Treasurers report, noting that cash on hand totals $1,171,172.98.

  • Noting that Wilkin County was successful regarding their applications to the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources for Clean Water funding for several projects, including: the Otter Tail River Restoration ($203,000); the Whisky Creek Enhancement Project ($103,100); the Otter Tail River Stream Bank Restoration and Protection ($135,000); and the Otter Tail River TMDL Water Quality Improvement Project to Reduce Turbidity Phase 5 ($201,000). Becker County also received grants for their single site multi-agency permitting program ($75,000) and their targeted phosphorus reduction and lake protection project ($254,897).

  • Approved Pay Request #2 and Change Order #1 for the Clay County Ditch (C.D.) No. 11 repairs in the amount of $2,906.33. Erik S. Jones, Engineer, HEI, noted that all work on the project is now complete except for some minor seeding and clean up to do in the spring when conditions permit.

  • Agreed to sign Amendment #7 to the grant agreement between the BRRWD and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the City of Georgetown Flood Control Levee. The amendment adds $109,000 to the grant and extends the completion date until 03/31/16. This amendment should close out the project, which has now been completed. The total contribution from the State of Minnesota is $4,054,000.

  • Approved a Final Pay Request to William Nichol Excavating, Inc. in the amount of $7,903.00 for their work on the Wilkin C.D. No. 5A, 22, and 26 outlet grade control structures.

  • Discussed the status of several potential detention areas that are currently being studied, which include Barnesville Township, Stony Creek, and South Branch of the Buffalo River. The Board agreed that one of the next steps has to be for the Board to determine easement payment rates. The Board also authorized HEI to analyze the proposed Stony Creek Detention area in accordance with the Red River Watershed Management Board’s (RRWMB) “Star Value” guidelines. The Metro Flood Diversion Authority (MFDA) has approved Phase 1 Project grants for the preliminary design for the noted projects. Stony Creek would receive $86,800 with maximum eligible MFDA funds of  $1,736,000; the Upper South Branch Water Resource Management Project received $74,022 with maximum eligible MFDA funds of $1,480,440; and Barnesville Township received $60,746 with maximum eligible MFDA funds of $1,214,920.

  • Noting that Sellin Brothers, Inc. continues to make good progress regarding the Phase 2 Buffalo River Restoration Project in Hawley. Jones noted that the majority of the work will be completed next week with seeding and clean up to do in the spring.

  • Agreed to submit a Section 1135 Habitat Restoration letter to the Army Corp of Engineers (COE) for them to consider doing a feasibility study to develop an ecosystem restoration project along the Otter Tail River in Wilkin County. This section of river was previously channelized and straightened by the COE in the 1950s. In the past year or so, a number of agencies including the DNR, have been meeting locally to discuss ways to improve the habitat along this straightened reach. The BRRWD has secured an EPA Section 319 grant to help fund the initial study. One of the next steps will be to schedule a landowner informational meeting this winter.

  • Discussed the State’s new bufferstrip legislation, which would require all protected waterways to have a 50′ buffer by no later than November 2017, and all legal drainage systems to have a one-rod grassed buffer by no later than November 2018. The BRRWD currently has approximately 80 ditch systems under their jurisdiction located in Becker, Clay, and Wilkin Counties. In order to accomplish the State’s goals, the Board authorized HEI to begin the necessary survey work to determine the right-of-way needs along each of the individual systems. Work will start at the north end of the District and proceed south. Legislation places the bufferstrip requirement on the affected landowners. However, the BRRWD has agreed to work with those landowners in terms of the legal drains.

  • Noting that at the recent Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts (MAWD) Annual meeting held in Alexandria earlier this month, the BRRWD received the DNR’s “Watershed District of the Year” and MAWD’s “Project of the Year” awards. The Project of the Year went to the Manston Slough Restoration.

  • Approved payment of bills totaling $424,041.65.

The next meeting of the Board of Managers, BRRWD, will be held on Monday, December 28, 2015 at 7:00 PM in their Barnesville office located at 1303 4th AVE NE. All meetings are open to the public.  Special agenda topics for that meeting will include the FY16 MFDA proposed budget and updating of BRRWD rules.  For more information, please visit our website at