BRRWD Meets with International Water Institute

April 27, 2015

At their meeting held in Barnesville on Monday, April 27, 2015, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), met with Chuck Fritz, Executive Director, International Water Institute (IWI).  Fritz indicated that he wanted to introduce himself to several of the new BRRWD Managers.  He also wanted to update the Board regarding several new tools that the IWI is working on.  The Prioritize, Target, and Measure Application (PTMApp) can be used in rural settings to:  1) identify the sources of sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus, which leave the landscape and enter a downstream lake or river; 2) target specific fields on the landscape for the implementation of nonpoint source best  management practices (BMPs); and 3) estimate the benefits of single and multiple BMPs within a watershed where the benefits are expressed as downstream load reduction reaching a lake or river and the estimated cost per pound of that reduction.  The PTMApp will provide access to new and improved water quality related data and is specifically aimed at those who committed time to more advanced graphic information systems skills.  

Fritz also reviewed the Basin Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee (BTSAC) Briefing Paper #3:  Water Management Options for Surface Drainage.  Copies of the report were given to the Board members.  The study is an attempt to objectively address the questions surrounding the relationship between agricultural surface drainage and flooding, and ultimately develop more effective and equitable water management policies in the Red River Basin.  The study looked at BMP recommendations for agricultural surface drainage systems.  A couple of the study’s key components, includes:  flood storage can further reduce flood damages on drainage systems; it is important to maintain non-contributing areas, as these areas normally would not have a pathway to enter the hydrologic system during flood events; and that currently there is no basin-wide governance in place to uniformly establish the policy, adopt, and/or enforce any BTSAC recommendations.  Fritz commented that it will be up to local Watersheds, such as the BRRWD, to review, familiarize themselves, and implement the recommendations.  

Other business included: 

  • A summary of the Treasurer’s report, which indicated that to date, the Board has total receipts of $1,686,575.93. The current balance of cash on hand is $1,497,629.85 and the year to date expenditures for the administrative fund is $121,333.65.

  • Met with Lonnie Neuner, Administrator, City of Lake Park, regarding a project the City is working on to possibly restore part of Lake Flora. Bruce Albright, BRRWD Administrator, said the lake was drained with the installation of Becker County Ditch (C.D.) No. 7 in approximately 1906. At one time, Lake Flora was approximately 30 acres in size and 8-10′ deep. Current plans would be to partially restore the lake to enhance its features, which are currently are a large cattail choked basin. The Board approved a motion to continue working with the City of Lake Park in this regard.

  • A considerable number of people were in attendance to monitor the Board’s activities regarding approval of the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority (DA) budget. Back on 03/23/15, the Board approved a small part of the budget ($1.5 million) to complete the Minnesota Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). BRRWD Chairman, Gerald L. Van Amburg, talked with representatives of the DA this afternoon. They felt for now, no further expenditures would need approval and they are willing to wait for the draft EIS, which is scheduled to be out in August or September of 2015. Approval of budget items for the DA will no longer appear on the BRRWD’s agenda until the EIS is completed. 

  • Landowners questioned the status of the Wolverton Creek/Comstock Coulee restoration project. Albright said that an agency meeting was held on 04/02/15 to discuss possible funding sources. One thing that the BRRWD could complete this summer would be the creation of a “water management district” which would provide a local source of funding for any possible future grant matches. Erik Jones, Engineer, Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) said one of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) permitting requirements was that the various C.D. systems that outlet into the Coulee need to have grade control stabilization structures. He thought that the plans for the grade control structures would be completed in the next 4-6 weeks. The BRRWD currently has grant funding available through the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources to assist with the grade stabilization structure costs.   

  • The Board approved permits to: Stephen Anderson to install a field ditch draining into Wilkin C.D. No. 41 for which the property is assessed in the SE1/4, Section 11, Atherton Township; Enventis Telecom to install a fiber optic line from 34th ST S along County Road No. 52 to Trunk Highway (T.H.) No. 75, paralleling the right-of-way along Clay C.D. No. 47; Wilkin County Highway Department to replace a crossing in 330th AVE over Deerhorn Creek between Sections 25 and 26, Prairie View Township. The existing structure is a 42″ diameter corrugated metal pipe (CMP) and the new structure will be one line of 12′ (span) by 4′ (rise) reinforced concrete box (RCB) with a total waterway area of 46 square feet (sq. ft.). Water has run over the road at this location; Wilkin County Highway Department to replace a bridge on 200th AVE over Wilkin C.D. No. 23, between Sections 22 and 23, Nordick Township. The existing bridge has a waterway area of 200 sq. ft. The proposed structure would be two lines of 10′ (span) by 7′ (rise) RCB with end sections having a total waterway area of 136 sq. ft.; Wilkin County Highway Department to replace an existing culvert in Park AVE in the City of Wolverton on an unnamed tributary to the Red River. The existing structure is a 72″ diameter CMP with a waterway are of 28.3 sq. ft. The proposed structure is one line of 12′ (span) by 7′ (rise) RCB culvert with end sections having a total culvert waterway area of 82 sq. ft.; Cromwell Township to replace an existing 18″ diameter CMP through 80th AVE N in the SE1/4, Section 6, with a new 18″ diameter CMP with aprons at the same location and elevation; the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District/United Stated Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to remove two 6′ diameter culverts from a rechannelized section of the Buffalo River in Section 13, Riceville Township, Becker County; the Minnesota Department of Transportation to reconstruct the T.H. No. 75 and T.H. No. 94 interchange in Moorhead; and the City of Moorhead for road raises at 15th AVE N and 7th ST N which will tie in with their flood control levees.     

  • Accepted the detailed survey report from HEI pertaining to Project No. 77, Clay C.D. No. 51-Proposed Lateral No. 3. The Board also appointed Viewers Ron Ringquist, Rod Knutson, and Rick Battles. Once the Viewers file their report, the final hearing can be scheduled. 

  • The Manston Slough Restoration Project has been selected by the Minnesota Environmental Initiative as one of three finalists in their “Natural Resources” category. The Awards Ceremony will be held on Thursday, May 21, 2015, at the Nicollet Island Pavilion, Minneapolis, MN. Albright, Van Amburg, and Fjestad plan to attend.   

  • Signed Amendment No. 8 to the DNR’s contract for funding pertaining to the Oakport Flood Mitigation Project. The amendment adds $131,082 to the existing agreement and will cover costs incurred to date by the BRRWD pertaining to the project. We should know after the Minnesota Legislature adjourns on May 18th as to whether or not there is a bonding bill and the needed funding ($5.6 million) to complete Phase 4. 

  • Noting that Albright plans to attend the 05/04/15 Georgetown City Council meeting to give them an update regarding their Flood Control Project. The BRRWD is currently dealing with one house that still needs to be demolished before the levee can be completed. 

  • Noting that the contractor working on the repairs for Becker C.D. No. 15 is still encountering frost. The USFWS has encumbered funding to complete the ditch repairs in the Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge.   

  • Noting that the next Mediation Project Team meeting will be held on Thursday, May 7, 2015, at 7:00 PM in the Barnesville Watershed Office. Ongoing projects include the Wolverton Creek/Comstock Coulee restoration, a comprehensive project for Stony Creek, the Barnesville Township Area Drainage Study, and the South Branch of the Buffalo River. 

  • Discussed scheduling to complete the update of the BRRWD’s Revised Water Management Plan (RWMP). The current goal is to have the “draft” RWMP completed by 05/31/15. 

  • Made the final orders for the redetermination of benefits on Clay C.D. Nos. 9, 32, and 33. The action will begin the 30-day appeal period. Approximately 20 acres of land located in Section 25, Kurtz Township, will need to be added to Clay C.D. No. 40, which will be a separate proceeding. 

  • Discussed the status of the Hawley Buffalo River Restoration project. The Board agreed that a stockpile of material on the west end of the project will be hauled to the City of Hawley’s disposal site. 

  • Discussed 2015 water quality monitoring. An agency meeting was held on 04/17/15 with representatives from the IWI, DNR, and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, to discuss the sampling locations. Approximately 38 sites will be monitored in 2015. The IWI has furnished a letter agreement for doing the sampling for a cost estimated at $21,329. The Board agreed to enter into that agreement. The water quality analysis is done by RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc., in Detroit Lakes, MN. The estimated cost for the analysis is $21,738. 

  • Discussed reservations for the 2015 Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts Summer Tour which will be held this year in Duluth from June 24-26, 2015. 

  • Discussed options for repairing an outlet culvert on Clay C.D. No. 11 North. The original culvert was installed following the 1975 summer flood. Option No. 3, which is a full culvert replacement, appears to be the cheapest alternative, estimated to cost between $130,000-150,000. HEI is also analyzing several slumping issues east of T.H. No. 75. The Board felt it would wait until that analysis is done so perhaps one contractor could do both projects. An informational meeting will be held with the Clay C.D. No. 11 landowners before starting the repairs. 

  • Discussed possible repairs for a failing outlet structure located on Clay C.D. No. 67, in Section 21, Oakport Township. The cheapest repair includes using a product called Flexamat, which is a “tied concrete block mat”. The estimated cost for this alternative is $32,350. The City of Moorhead is looking at some flood control projects in this area. One option would be to relocate sections of Clay C.D. No. 67 to accommodate that work. The Board felt we should coordinate the repairs with the City of Moorhead so perhaps both projects could be done at the same time.   

  • Approved the payment of bills, totaling $39,141.91.

  • The BRRWD’s special agenda topics included a review of their goals, and discussion about identifying a long term source of funding for future BRRWD projects. One option regarding funding might be rejoining the Red River Watershed Management Board (RRWMB). The Board felt they may need to schedule a “special” meeting to continue those discussions. A decision would need to be made by July 2015 regarding possible membership. The BRRWD was an RRWMB member for the years of 1981-2002.

The next meeting of the Board of Managers, BRRWD, is scheduled for Monday, May 11, 2015, at 7:00 PM in the Barnesville office, located at 1303 4th AVE NE, Barnesville, MN.  All meetings are open to the public.  For more information, please visit our website at www.brrwd.org.