BRRWD Discusses F-M Diversion Authority’s Budget

 

January 26, 2015

 At their regular meeting held on Monday, January 26, 2015, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), spent considerable time discussing the F-M Diversion Authority’s proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Budget, which began on October 1, 2014.  In accordance with the Joint Powers Agreement (JPA), which the Cities of Fargo and Moorhead, Cass and Clay Counties, the Southeast Cass Water Resource District, and the BRRWD have all signed, each entity is supposed to approve the annual budget.  Representatives from the F-M Diversion Authority, including Eric Dodds and Rocky Schneider, AE2S; Keith Berndt, Cass County Administrator; and Tami Norgard, the BRRWD’s Legal Counsel, were present to discuss the proposed $210.8 million budget.  The proposed funding comes from North Dakota sources.  The other five JPA entities have already approved the budget.  Watershed meeting attendees also included a number of landowners from within the project’s proposed staging area, who voiced concerns.  They felt the BRRWD shouldn’t approve the budget and wait until the Minnesota Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is completed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  A draft of the EIS is expected in May 2015.  A motion to approve the budget was made and seconded resulting in a tie vote of 3 to 3.  Discussion about the budget will continue at the next BRRWD meeting.  

Other business included: 

  • Meeting with a Wilkin County landowner, who is concerned about erosion on her property in the NE¼, Section 6, Manston Township from the South Branch of the Buffalo River. The Board updated her on their current plans. We have identified a “Phase 1” project area, which would begin at Trunk Highway (T.H.) No. 9 and extend downstream to County Road (C.R.) No. 30. In this area, we would look at retention, channel restoration, and levees where needed to contain flows. A project considered last fall for the NE¼, Section 6, Manston Township, could still be built this spring to help alleviate flooding and erosion on that particular tract. A possible retention area is also being looked at in Section 11, Manston Township. Bruce E. Albright, BRRWD Administrator, said that he learned today, that this property has now been enrolled in the Reinvest In Minnesota program, administered by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR).

  • Approval of a permit to Jerry Matter to install a culvert in Becker County Ditch (C.D.) No. 21, which crosses his property in the northwest corner of the SE¼, Section 10, Riceville Township. The culvert will be installed to gain access to his property, located northwest of the ditch. 

  • Discussed the status of Project No. 77, Clay C.D. No. 51-Proposed Lateral No. 3. The Preliminary Hearing was held on January 5, 2015, in Moorhead. The next step will be for the Board to make the Order to continue the project development. Minutes for the Preliminary Hearing should be sent to Managers this week. We’re also waiting for a report from Erik S. Jones, Engineer, Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI), which details the existing drainage condition for Section 28, Kragnes Township. The Board will consider making the Order at their next meeting.

  • HEI provided the easement drawings/descriptions for right-of-way (R/W) needed to restore Whiskey Creek in Section 14, Connelly Township, Wilkin County. The BRRWD has been working on this project for the past year due to upstream county ditch outlet concerns. An informational meeting was held with the affected landowners last summer. The BRRWD office will prepare and send the easements to the four affected landowners. It appears that we will need 57′ of permanent R/W and 23′ of temporary R/W on each side of the channel.

  • A meeting was held on 01/26/15 with representatives from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Moorhead to discuss the Kelly Nichols Wetlands Reserve Program project east of Barnesville. Rodent holes in the embankment were noted last summer, and the wetland pool was lowered. Options to repair the site were discussed. The NRCS will look at an option to lower the wetland pool and repair the embankment at their expense, and the BRRWD may need to assume future inspection, mowing, and repair costs.

  • The office is working with Representative Ben Lien and Senator Kent Eken regarding funding bills for the Oakport Flood Mitigation Project. The most recent estimate is the project will need $5.66 million to finish Phase 4. Last week, BRRWD representatives visited with Kent Lokkesmoe, Financial Coordination, DNR, at the Red River Basin Commission (RRBC) Conference held in Winnipeg. Mr. Lokkesmoe reiterated that the DNR knows that the project needs to be finished. We’ll just have to wait and see if the Legislature allocates any money in 2015 for Flood Damage Reduction projects.

  • Corey R. Elmer, Attorney, Vogel Law Firm, continues to work with the Housing and Urban Development Department regarding valuations for a proposed house trade in the City of Georgetown. We need to relocate one house in order to complete the levee work. Hopes are that the legal work can be complete before spring, so that the contractor can finish the project when conditions permit in 2015.

  • Albright met with landowners on Clay/Wilkin Judicial Ditch No. 1 to discuss a petition that would divert waters from the drainage system west along the south side of the County line into Wolverton Creek/Comstock Coulee. They’re currently experiencing some problems in getting the necessary signatures. Albright will meet with Tami L. Norgard, Attorney, Vogel Law Firm, to discuss the petition requirements.

  • Noting that the next Mediation Project Team (PT) meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2015, at 1:30 PM in the Barnesville Watershed office.

  • Noting that the office has been contacted by numerous landowners awaiting the survey results for the Barnesville Township Comprehensive Study. Some of the preliminary information was discussed at the 01/08/15 PT meeting.

  • Jones noted that the preliminary survey work has been completed for the Haick/Peppel possible retention site, located in Section 4, Manston Township, Wilkin County. As soon as the information is available, the affected landowners will be contacted.

  • Discussed a possible retention area identified on Stony Creek west Interstate-94. The Board agreed to contact the Red River Basin Flood Damage Reduction Work Group and the City of Fargo for possible funding assistance to continue the analysis. Jones indicated that the next step would be to complete a channel survey.

  • Noting that a landowner informational meeting is scheduled for Friday, February 6, 2015, at 1:00 PM in the Wilkin County Environmental Office, Breckenridge. Letters have been sent to affected landowners. The meeting pertains to possible changes between the BRRWD and the Bois de Sioux Watershed District boundary.

  • Noting that work continues on the Revised Watershed Management Plan. Informational meetings were held with landowners in the newly added area to the BRRWD on January 13 and 15, 2015, in Rothsay and Breckenridge. Both meetings were well attended. Landowners identified problem areas within the two new planning regions (Upper Red/Otter Tail). The next step will be to set up a meeting with the Technical Advisory Committee.

  • Noting that a Producer Forum will be held on Thursday, February 26, 2015, from 9:00 AM to 12 Noon at the Jerry and Jared Nordick Farm, located in Section 23, Meadows Township, Wilkin County. The farm site is located approximately 4 miles east of T.H. No. 9 on C.R. No. 20, or 250th ST. The Forum will talk about pending state and federal water quality regulations and highlight the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) for which the Whiskey Creek drainage area has been designated as a Pilot. The purpose of the Forum is to encourage producer interest and participation in the MAWQCP.

  • Reviewed the Final Pay Request and Change Order for Ziegler Construction, Inc., for their work on the Elkton Township wetland banking site. The amount of the Final Pay Request was $8,972.41.

  • Reviewed a repair report prepared by HEI pertaining to repairs requested on Clay C.D. No. 5. Repair recommendations include starting approximately 800′ downstream of 50th ST (between Section 1, Kragnes Township, and Section 6, Morken Township) and extending upstream through Section 6, Morken Township. The opinion of probable cost is $12,000. The Board approved the repair. Affected landowners will be contacted for permission to deposit and level spoil.

  • Noting that the BRRWD was not successful in the recent round of Clean Water Fund competitive grants administered by BWSR. The BRRWD had submitted two projects, including outlet repairs for Clay C.D. No. 23 and the other project was to repair the outlet of Clay C.D. No. 39 and install inlet pipes on Clay C.D. No. 59. The Becker Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) did have the Number 1 project, which will reduce nutrient and sediment delivery to 12 impaired lakes and impaired reaches of the Buffalo River in the Hay Creek watershed area. The amount of their grant was $398,000.

  • Noting that BRRWD representatives have met with NRCS representatives to discuss the new Farm Bill and possible funding assistance through their Environmental Quality Incentives Program. It appears that they might have funding to help with the restoration of Wolverton Creek/Comstock Coulee. The Board authorized the office to set up a landowner informational meeting for Wolverton Creek/Comstock Coulee.

  • Noting that several Managers plan to attend the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts “Legislative Day at the Capitol”, scheduled for March 11-12, 2015.

  • The Board agreed to submit the Manston Slough Restoration project for a 2015 Environmental Initiative Award in the “Natural Resources” category. Applications are due by February 27.

  • Approved a $200 contribution to the Becker SWCD for the Area I Envirothon, which provides an educational opportunity for students from Grades 9-12 to attend the Senior Envirothon on May 6, 2015, and Grades 6-8 to the Junior Envirothon on October 7, 2015. The Envirothon is an outdoor, hands-on learning experience that centers around five different learning stations. There are seventeen SWCDs in Area I that participate. The top three teams from each Envirothon will be invited to the 2015 Minnesota State Envirothon to be held at the Cloquet Forestry Center.

  • The “special topic” for tonight’s meeting was Stony Creek. For years, there have been noted problems along Stony Creek, primarily west of T.H. No. 9. This area was channelized in the early 1900s and is called Clay C.D. No. 31. The ditch system is in need of repair. The benefit area, also dated in the early 1900s, needs to be redetermined. An “integrated” project for this area would include a redetermination of benefits, re-channelization of the county ditch system, which might include a two-stage channel, set back containment levees, and a retention area. As previously noted, the BRRWD will apply for some funding to help with the analysis.

  • Noting that the February 23 BRRWD meeting special agenda topics will include an update of the short, mid-term, and long range BRRWD goals, and a review of the process needed to update the BRRWD Rules.

  • Approved the payment of bills, totaling $136,337.16. 

The next meeting of the Board of Managers, BRRWD is scheduled for Monday, February 9, 2015, at 7:00 PM in the Barnesville office, located at 1303 4th AVE NE.  Representatives from the RRBC will attend to present their recently completed Aquatic Invasive Species study for the watershed.  Discussion will continue on the F-M Diversion Authority’s FY 2015 budget.  All meetings are open to the public.  For more information, please visit our website at www.brrwd.org.