Monthly Archives: August 2016

BRRWD Sets 2017 Tax Levies

The Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), set their 2017 tax levies at their regular meeting and annual budget hearing held on Monday, August 22, 2016, at 7:00 PM, in Barnesville. The general levies, which are assessed district-wide, including administration, insurance, and projects/programs, total $1,425,162, or an increase of one-quarter of one percent over 2016.  The administrative levy is capped by Watershed Law at $250,000.  The 2017 insurance budget will be set at $14,000.  The Minnesota Statues Annotated (M.S.A.) 103D.905, Subd. 3, levies, which need to be petitioned for by a political subdivision, include a general levy in the amount of $661,162 and a second special levy, which will be used to pay off costs associated with the Manston Slough Restoration Project ($500,000).

The Board also set the following project/ditch system levies, which for 2017 total $1,593,000:

Clay County
Ditch No. 2 – $25,000
Ditch No. 3 – $15,000
Ditch No. 5 – $25,000
Ditch No. 9 – $50,000
Ditch No. 10 – $100,000
Ditch No. 11 – $100,000
Ditch No. 17 – $5,000
Ditch No. 20 – $10,000
Ditch No. 22 – $10,000
Ditch No. 23 – $5,000
Ditch No. 28 – $15,000
Ditch No. 32 – $50,000
Ditch No. 33 – $40,000
Ditch No. 36 – $10,000
Ditch No. 40 – $30,000
Ditch No. 41 – $100,000
Ditch No. 41, Lat. No. 1 – $25,000
Ditch No. 47 – $50,000
Ditch No. 49 – $10,000
Ditch No. 50 – $20,000
Ditch No. 53 – $15,000
Ditch No. 54 – $5,000
Ditch No. 58 – $15,000
Ditch No. 59 – $75,000
Ditch No. 65 – $25,000
Ditch No. 67 – $10,000
Ditch No. 69 – $10,000

Becker County
Ditch No. 5 – $5,000
Ditch No. 9 – $20,000
Ditch No. 10 – $3,000
Ditch No. 15 – $15,000
Ditch No. 19 – $10,000

Wilkin County
Ditch No. 1B – $10,000
Ditch No. 1C – $70,000
Ditch No. 5A – $25,000
Ditch No. 7 – $50,000
Ditch No. 13 – $20,000
Ditch No. 15 – $50,000
Ditch No. 22 – $75,000
Ditch No. 26 – $10,000
Ditch No. 28 – $15,000
Ditch No. 40 – $15,000
Ditch No. 41 – $50,000
Ditch No. 42 – $30,000
Ditch No. 43 – $20,000
Ditch No. 44 – $15,000 

Projects/Ditch Systems
No. 30, Clay-Wilkin J.D. No. 1 – $25,000
No. 46, Turtle Lake Outlet – $10,000 (Becker County)
No. 49, Oakport Flood Mitigation – $75,000
No. 56, Manston Slough Restoration – $100,000
No. 64, LaBelle/Boyer Lakes Outlet – $10,000
No. 65, County Line Outlet – $5,000
No. 70, Crystal Creek/McCann’s Additions Flood Control – $10,000

Other business included:

  • Discussion of Project No. 77, County Ditch (C.D.) No. 51-Lateral No. 3. The project petitioner has purchased the land where the project was to be located. He no longer wants to develop the project. He has applied for a permit to level illegal dikes located on the property. The Board granted the permit subject to the petitioner filing a petition for abandonment of Project No. 77 and payment of the BRRWD’s costs in that regard (approximately $10,000). 

  • Noting that Erik S. Jones, Engineer, Houston Engineering, Inc., plans to meet with a landowner in Section 6, Nordick Township, Wilkin County, regarding his request to install culverts in a natural waterway. The purpose of the field meeting will be to determine the culvert sizing.

  • Approval of permits to: Luke Wiertzema to lower culverts along the SW1/4 of Section 9, Nilsen Township, Wilkin County; Jeff Yaggie to install an approach and culvert in the SE1/4, Section 18, Meadows Township, Wilkin County; Jeff Yaggie to install an approach and culvert into the SE1/4, Section 30, Nilsen Township, Wilkin County; City of Moorhead to construct a paved road with curb and gutter section on 12th AVE, from 40th ST to 45th ST in the E1/2, Section 14, Moorhead Township, Clay County; and Deal Enterprises, Inc. to install Natural Resources Conservation Service designed sediment control basins in the NE1/4, Section 28, Trondhjem Township, Otter Tail County.

  • Discussed the BRRWD’s financial status. Cash on hand totals $2,268,583.54, with all bills paid. The office will continue to bill the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on a semi-monthly basis pertaining to costs associated with Project No. 49, Oakport Flood Mitigation.

  • Discussed a couple of issues involving the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and their flood insurance program. West of Barnesville, we have a homeowner along an unnamed tributary, who applied for a Letter of Map Revision with FEMA, which they denied. Clay County updated their flood insurance study in 2012, but this area was not remapped. Jones felt that FEMA made their determination in error. He estimates it would cost between $5,000-$10,000 to remodel the area. A similar issue arose last week when a homeowner in the southeast corner of Section 32, Spring Prairie Township, Clay County, visited the office to complain that their property is located in the 100-year flood zone. This area was remapped 2012, and there are problems with the FEMA mapping. However, to restudy this area, Jones estimates it could cost $75,000. Clay County does not have the funding to do the work. The house in question does have several issues pertaining to the flood insurance program. Clay County is willing to work with the homeowner to make the necessary improvements.

  • Discussed Watershed District permit conditions. From time to time, downstream landowners complain of tile system operation. One of the general tiling permit conditions includes “pumped outlets are approved with the condition that the pump(s) are not operating during times of downstream flooding or not operated if icing up of downstream structures is occurring.” The BRRWD is currently working with a landowner in Section 24, Breckenridge Township, who is complaining of an upstream tiling project. The tiling owner/operator will be reminded of the BRRWD’s permit conditions. 

  • For Project No. 56, Manston Slough Restoration, discussed installing more openings along the spoil bank of Wilkin C.D. No. 13-Lateral. When this ditch system was installed in the 1980s, the intent of the spoil banks was to create dikes to keep the water in the drainage system. Now that the area has reverted to wetlands, and is involved with the Manston Slough Project, openings can be made in the spoil bank to allow the water to flow into the adjacent wetlands and to also help alleviate upstream concerns about the sizing of the downstream waterway openings and recent flooding that has occurred in the Trunk Highway (T.H.) No. 9 area. 

  • Discussed the status of the Oakport Flood Mitigation Project. Albright toured the area on 08/19/16 with Kris Carlson, Project Engineer, Ulteig Engineers, Inc. The recent wet weather has delayed construction. Initially, they planned to be finished by Labor Day. The Board decided to allow no hunting in and around the Brentwood area. The BRRWD’s map has been adjusted accordingly. Homeowners in this area have complained for the past several years regarding people who did not respect their privacy. 

  • Noting that R.J. Zavoral & Sons, Inc. started work on slump repairs for sites located along Clay C.D. No. 10 in Kragnes and Morken Townships. 

  • Approved removal of a 72″ dia. culvert through 170th ST between Sections 3 and 10, Manston Township, on Wilkin C.D. No.  44. The Township asked that the pipe be removed to improve road safety. The BRRWD will follow up with the required hearings at a later date. A number of years ago, the road was rerouted to keep the majority of the water on the south side of the road. There’s no longer a need for a ditch on the north side of 170th ST. 

  • Noting that an agency meeting was held on 08/16/16 to discuss Phase 1A of the South Branch of the Buffalo River project, east of T.H. No. 9. Mostly, the agencies agreed with the proposed project concept. The Nature Conservancy has to check on several issues involving their land, located in the W1/2, Section 12, Manston Township. 

  • Noting that the Fall Tour has now been rescheduled for Thursday, September 22, 2016, beginning at 1:30 PM from the BRRWD Office in Barnesville. Tour invitations will be sent next week. 

  • Noting that the BRRWD will submit comments regarding the permit filed by the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority to the DNR for proposed activities on the Minnesota side of the Red River. The BRRWD previously supplied comments to the DNR when they were working on the Environmental Impact Statement. To date, those comments have not been addressed. 

  • Noting that informational meetings will be held on Wednesday, September 7, 2016, beginning at 7:30 AM in the Wilkin County Environmental Office, Breckenridge, MN, to discuss pending repairs on Wilkin C.D. Nos. 6A and 7. Affected landowners will be mailed notices. 

  • Approved payment of bills totaling $131,855.68. 

The next meeting of the Board of Managers, BRRWD, is scheduled for Monday, September 12, 2016, 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, please visit our website at

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

BRRWD Reviews Permits

At their regular meeting held on July 25, 2016, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), reviewed several permits, approving permits to: Nevis Shulstad for wetland restorations and tall grass prairie restoration in Sections 35 and 36, Humboldt Township, Clay County; Mick Siems, Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club, for a wetland restoration in Section 5, Orwell Township, Otter Tail County; Century Link for the installation of fiber optic cable in the NW1/4, Section 1, Breckenridge Township, Wilkin County. The Board also discussed a permit for Douglas Etten to install 230 acres of pattern tiling in the S1/2, Section 26, Meadows Township, Wilkin County. The Board discussed the outlet route and will request that Etten notify downstream landowners before the permit is approved.

Other business included:

  • Reviewed the BRRWD’s financial status. Cash on hand is $1,170,375.15. Since the 07/11/16 meeting, we have received $1.4 million (50%) of the $2.8 million Targeted Watershed Program grant for the Wolverton Creek Restoration Project from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), $89,073.74 from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for Project No. 49, Oakport Flood Mitigation, $3,746.50 from Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for the Upper Red River Total Maximum Daily Load Study, and a $75 reimbursement from John Hanson for the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts Summer Tour spousal expenses. We’re still waiting for the 1st half tax settlements from Clay County for their ditch/project collections. The Board has scheduled the 2017 Annual Budget Hearing for 08/22/16 at 9:00 PM. Notices have been mailed to the area newspapers for publication. 

  • Discussed the status of a drainage complaint over a tiling project installed in 2013 in the SW1/4, Section 21, Sunnyside Township, Wilkin County. Water from the tiling project needs to drain approximately 3.5 miles before reaching a grassed, natural waterway that drains directly into the Red River. Downstream landowners are concerned that the ditches along the tile outlet path are now full of cattails, saturated, and that their areas cannot handle the additional flows. The Board discussed who should be required to maintain drainage areas downstream of tile outlets and if this should be part of their permit requirements. 

  • Discussed the status of Project No. 77, Clay County Ditch No. 51-Proposed Lateral No. 3. The Board received a copy of the complaint that was filed by Robert Norby via his attorney, Zenas Baer. Erik Jones, Engineer, Houston Engineering, Inc. noted that he had completed his deposition on July 21. Additional depositions have yet to be scheduled. 

  • Discussed the status of Project No. 56, Manston Slough Restoration. The office met with a local landowner who had concerns with how slowly water was draining from his field and into the project following the recent heavy rains. Elevations of the water levels within the project boundaries were checked and found that they were lower than the water draining from his field. This area has had drainage problems in the past before the project was completed. Erik Jones, Engineer, Houston Engineering, Inc. will review the area drainage and make recommendations to the Board. Mowing within the project area will be done this week to help control weeds and promote vegetation growth. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will have staff in the area on Thursday, July 28 and will tour the project with Jones and Manager Van Amburg. 

  • Discussed the status of Project No. 49, Oakport Flood Mitigation. The office has been working with a project landowner who has had concerns with the easement that was signed in 2010 for completion of the project. They also reviewed another ongoing easement negotiation with a project landowner. The Board approved a change order for R.J. Zavoral & Sons, Inc. to remove a large brush pile that was left over from trees that were removed by the township during the 2009 spring flood.

  • Noting that the next Mediation Project Team meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 18, 2016, at 7:00 PM in the Watershed Office. The Fall Tour is tentatively scheduled for September 8, 2016, and will begin at 1:30 PM at the Watershed Office.

  • Approved submitting a 2017 BWSR Clean Water Fund competitive grant application for work on the South Branch of the Buffalo River east of T.H. No. 9. This would require a 25% local cost share. The office will hold an informational meeting on August 16, 2016, with agencies and affected landowners to discuss the project. 

  • Noting that meetings with county commissioners regarding the Revised Watershed Management Plan are scheduled with Clay County on August 9 and Becker County on August 16. Meetings have already been held with Wilkin County and Otter Tail County. 

  • Noting that Manager Cathy Affield was reappointed by Wilkin County for another three-year term. 

  • Noting the completion of mowing on the Elkton Township Wetland Restoration Project. Wetland monitoring will be completed in the next few weeks. 

  • Approved submitting an Accelerated Implementation Grant (AIG) BWSR application, which will be used to develop data that will be needed when the One Watershed One Plan is completed. The AIG application will also evaluate geomorphic stability of District rivers and streams. 

  • Approved upgrades to office computers and monitors which are getting outdated and discussed improvements to monitors and cameras that are used in the board room. 

  • Approved repairs to a crossing on Hay Creek, downstream of the Stinking Lake Project in the NW1/4, Section 36, Highland Grove Township, Clay County. The landowner will provide some of the installation work as a cost share. 

  • Noting that the BRRWD Board of Managers reviewed Sections 1, 2, and 3 of their updated Rules, making several adjustments. The process will continue at subsequent meetings. 

  • Noting that the Board accepted the Engineer’s Design Report for Wilkin County Ditch No. 7-Improvements. 

  • Approved payment of bills totaling $107,557.80.

The next meeting of the Board of Managers, BRRWD, is scheduled for Monday, August 8, 2016, at 7:00 PM in the Watershed Office, located at 1303 4th AVE NE, Barnesville, MN 56514. All meetings are open to the public.  For more information, please visit our website at