BRRWD Receives IWI Update

Chuck Fritz, Executive Director, International Water Institute (IWI), attended the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD) meeting held on Monday, August 8, 2016, at 7:00 PM, in Barnesville. He updated the Board regarding three projects that IWI is working on.  The first is the Prioritize, Target, and Measure Application (PTMApp) which is an innovative new tool that will help users with all aspects of water quality planning, from describing the watershed to developing implementation plans.

The second thing involves a runoff-drainage assessment geographic information systems (GIS) application. The project will review and evaluate relevant literature and alternative assessment methods; investigate data layers and analyze criteria; draft a memo summarizing available data, methods, and proposed framework; and submit an outline to the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and the Minnesota Drainage Work Group.  Work items include review of alternative drainage assessment efforts, review cited and other pertinent literature, review applicable data layers and analyze criteria, and prepare a memo summarizing the literature review of available methods.  Task II includes development of a conceptual GIS application to assess drainage system benefits.  Task III is legal consultation to provide access to the information via Minnesota Drainage Law, Chapter 103E, and revisions necessary to enable a proposed GIS application and data products as a legal option.  Task IV is developing a GIS workflow/prototype.  Task V is creating outreach materials, identifying the audience, and development of strategies for the GIS application.  Fritz said the project will be completed within the next month, except for the legal consultation and legislative actions, which will be discussed further during the 2017 Minnesota Legislative session.

Fritz also presented a paper written by Charles L. Anderson, Engineer, dated 07/19/16, titled “Flood Storage Capacity of Soil.”  The paper was in response to earlier comments made during a press conference held in Moorhead by Congressman Peterson regarding tile drainage in the Red River Basin.  Anderson’s paper addresses the question of “How much flood water can be stored in the soil profile?”  The study concludes that soil water storage is a huge factor during Red River Basin floods.  However, it is difficult to draw definite conclusions to the effect of tile drainage on that storage factor because of the many variables between flood events, soil types, and surface and subsurface drainage designs.  It is likely that widespread conventional tile drainage will tend to reduce small floods, but it is also likely that uncontrolled tile drainage may increase large floods.  On the other hand, properly designed and operated controlled drainage systems have the potential to significantly reduce all floods.

The Board thanked Fritz for his presentations. They were very interested in the new GIS based tool that would help Viewers assess benefits and damages.  This can be a costly and time consuming process.  The tool could be used to assess maintenance and repair costs on a particular ditch system.  The modeling is based on runoff and sediment contributions from a particular parcel, and with the modeling, there are no “politics” involved in the benefit process.

Other business included:

  • Approval of permits to: Brice Bellmore to install a culvert in County Road (C.R.) No. 151 between Sections 26 and 27, Roberts Township, Wilkin County; Wilkin County Highway Department for the regrading of one mile of County State Aid Highway No. 32 between Sections 5 and 8, Deerhorn Township; Wilkin County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to work with the Etten family to install stream bank stabilization along 1,250′ of the Otter Tail River in the NW1/4, Section 34, Foxhome Township; Charles Steiner for tiling the NW1/4, Section 17, Meadows Township, Wilkin County; Detroit Lakes Wetland Management for two wetland restorations in the center of the Krueger Waterfowl Production Area located in the S1/2, Section 15, Callaway Township, Becker Township; the City of Moorhead for road construction and street rehabilitation in the NE1/4, Section 16, Moorhead Township, Clay County; CenturyLink to place a 144 pair fiber optic cable on the west side of C.R. No. 10 under Willow Creek on Wilkin County Ditch (C.D.) No. 37 in the NE1/4, Section 2, Breckenridge Township; Brice Bellmore to clean existing ditches and to add surface drainage laterals in the NW1/4, Section 14, Roberts Township, Wilkin County; Brice Bellmore to remove two approaches and to install two new approaches in the SW1/4, Section 35, Roberts Township, Wilkin County, and included a request for the BRRWD to contact the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad regarding a plugged culvert in 220th ST; Brice Bellmore to clean existing field ditches and install new laterals in the NE1/4, Section 27, Roberts Township, Wilkin County; and the City of Moorhead for the installation of sanitary storm sewer and streets for their Horizon Shores 10th Addition residential development located in the NW1/4, Section 14, Moorhead Township.

  • Reviewed the BRRWD’s financial status. Cash on hand, with all bills paid, totals $1,818,625.95. Receipts in the past month total $2,248,703.84. Regarding the first half tax receipts, we are expecting a check from Clay County later this week in the amount of $632,274.66 for ditch systems/projects.

  • Discussed the BRRWD Rules update process. A motion was approved to include Drainage Water Management (DWM) materials with all tiling permits. The BRRWD will also enclose a letter encouraging applicants to consider incorporating DWM into their tiling projects. DWM provides multiple benefits to the landowner and downstream conditions. BRRWD Chair Gerald Van Amburg, questioned if DWM should be made part of the new BRRWD Rules. Bruce Albright, BRRWD Administrator, noted that it may not be applicable in all instances. 

  • Reviewed a complaint regarding a backhoe working in Wilkin C.D. No. 1B in Section 32, Meadows Township. The Wilkin County Highway Department was contacted, and they will take care of the matter. 

  • Approved the distribution of costs associated with Project No. 75, Wilkin C.D. No. 31-Proposed Lateral. The costs will be assessed two-thirds to Wilkin C.D. No. 1-C and one-third to Wilkin C.D. No. 34. The project involved the cleanout of one mile of Whiskey Creek, located in Section 14, Connelly Township. Both drainage systems use the creek as an outlet. 

  • Noting that BRRWD representatives hosted a tour of the Manston Slough Restoration Project on 07/27/16 with officials from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Erik Jones, Engineer, Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI), continues to look at ways to increase the outlet capacity downstream of the SE1/4, Section 20, Manston Township. With the recent heavy rains, landowner Tom Arnhalt has expressed drainage concerns. Now that the ditch downstream of Arnhalt’s property is involved with the project, culvert flap gates can be removed, spillways installed, etc. A recommendation will be presented at the 08/22/16 meeting. 

  • Approved Pay Request No. 5 to R.J. Zavoral & Sons, Inc. and their work associated with the Oakport Flood Mitigation Project-Phase 4 in the amount of $368,098.12. Kris Carlson, Ulteig Engineering, Inc. (UEI), noted that it appears there will be extra material on Phase 4 that will need to be stockpiled. A field tour of the project with UEI was tentatively scheduled for 08/19/16.

  • Noting that the next Mediation Project Team meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 18, 2016, at 7:00 PM in the Watershed Office. Active project discussions include the South Branch of the Buffalo River, Whisky Creek and an unnamed tributary west of Barnesville, and Stony Creek. The Fall Tour is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, September 13, 2016, leaving the Watershed Office at 1:30 PM.

  • Noting that the contractor involved with the culvert installations on Clay C.D. No. 59 has until 08/15/16 to complete his project. Jones said that there is still some cleanup work to do. 

  • After reviewing a letter prepared by office staff, the Board agreed to send a support letter to the Wilkin SWCD and their nomination for the 2016 SWCD of the Year Award. The letter talks about our long working relationship, recent projects such as the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program, the Nordick Discovery Farm and Demonstration Sites, retrofitting of the legal ditch systems in the newly added Watershed area, and the SWCDs efforts regarding funding secured through BWSR and their Clean Water Fund. 

  • Noting that the BRRWD has an interview with the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council on 08/23/16 in St. Paul, regarding funding for the Wolverton Creek Restoration Project. The grant application totals $3.015 million. 

  • Noting the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently seeking comments on the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project. The BRRWD submitted concerns during the DNR’s Environmental Impact Statement process. The same concerns will be submitted again, since no answers have come forth. 

  • Received repair plans from Erik Jones, Engineer, HEI, regarding Wilkin C.D. No. 6A. The project involves approximately five miles of channel located in Sections 31 and 32 of Tanberg Township and Sections 1, 2, 3, and 10 of Meadows Township. Downstream work includes the installation of rock structures to control erosion. In upstream sections, the ditch will be restored to have a 15′ bottom width and 3H:1V side slopes. The engineers estimated cost is $330,000. The BRRWD office will schedule an informational meeting with the affected ditch system landowners to be held at the Wilkin County Environmental Planning Office in Breckenridge. At the last BRRWD meeting, Jones also presented repair plans for Wilkin C.D. No. 7. Most likely, an informational meeting for C.D. No. 7 will be held on that same date, but at a different time. 

  • Agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Dilworth and Clay County regarding the BRRWD’s involvement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4). Jones and Albright attended a meeting with MPCA officials on 08/11/16 in Fergus Falls to discuss the program. The BRRWD’s general permit application for the program is due October 25, 2016. A similar MOU is expected to be signed with the City of Moorhead. The MS4 general permit is a requirement, but also a tool in the hands of City, Township, and County Officials who want to improve the quality of lakes and rivers that receive their storm water discharges. 

  • Noting that the BRRWD submitted two Clean Water Fund project and practices applications to BWSR. The first project, titled “Prioritizing and Targeting Conservation in the Buffalo-Red: PTMApp and Geomorphic Assessment” is in the amount of $168,000 with a $42,000 match. The second application is titled “South Branch Buffalo River BMPs-Part 3” requests $380,000 with a $95,000 match. It was noted that the Becker SWCD submitted an application titled “Upper Buffalo River Sediment Reduction Project” requesting $328,159 with a $82,040 match. We should find out in late December whether or not any of the applications are approved. 

  • Approved payment of bills totaling $559,819.33.

The next meeting of the Board of Managers, BRRWD, is scheduled for Monday, August 22, 2016, at 7:00 PM in the Watershed Office, located at 1303 4th AVE NE, Barnesville, MN. All meetings are open to the public.  Please note that the meeting will also include the BRRWD’s 2017 annual budget hearing.  This is where the administrative, project, and ditch system levies are set for the upcoming year.  Landowners with budget questions are encouraged to attend.  For more information, please visit our website at