Watershed approves buying land for dredging project

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Shell Rock River Watershed District came one step closer Tuesday in the planning for dredging Fountain Lake.

The Watershed District’s board of managers unanimously approved a purchase agreement with George Dress for 13.36 acres for $7,000 an acre. The site borders the expected site of the confined disposal facility, north of Interstate 90 and 1 1/2 miles north of Fountain Lake. It will be used for stormwater management, staging equipment and materials, and stockpiling soil and stormwater.

The Watershed District closed on a purchase agreement with Richard Stadheim for 101 acres last month and a purchase agreement has been signed with Larry Wangen for a little under five acres for the location of the CDF. The district is working on closing on the Wangen purchase.

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Director of Field Operations Andy Henschel said he was pleased with the vote, noting he thinks it will help the district in its pursuit of the CDF.

“It’s a huge, huge step forward in this process,” he said.

Manager Bruce Haugsdal said though purchasing land is expensive, he deems it necessary. He thanked staff and the public for making sure the purchases are completed in time, noting he was pleased with the district’s progress in the process.

Haugsdal said the district will save millions by placing the CDF close to Fountain Lake.

The confined disposal facility will be used to manage sediments. A CDF is a dewatering site in the dredging process. When dredging takes place, there will be a mixture of water and sediment pumped to the disposal facility, and the CDF will settle and siphon off the water. An embankment will go around the perimeter of the CDF.

Henschel said the district’s goal is for a dredge to enter Fountain Lake in 2017.

The project is expected to cost a maximum of $15 million and will be paid for with $7.5 million in state funding and other money raised from a half-percent sales tax.

The Albert Lea City Council in April approved final legislative language for the district’s request for a half-percent sales tax extension for either 15 years or until $15 million has been collected.

Extension of the sales tax will come before the public in November 2016 before being approved by the Legislature in 2017.

The board also approved sending the CDF facility project plan to the Board of Water and Soil Resources for review and comment.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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