Guest Column: Dredging the lake is a community project
Published 10:08 am Friday, March 3, 2017
Guest Column by Brett Behnke
Brett Behnke is the administrator of the Shell Rock River Watershed District.
The Shell Rock River Watershed District held our regular board of managers meeting Feb. 14. Afterward, the board held an open workshop meeting to discuss the Fountain Lake restoration project in more detail, specifically as it relates to our anticipated dredging progress this year. We discussed progress made with the confined disposal facility and the start of construction on holding cell No. 1 this spring.
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In reviewing the progress of our restoration project for Fountain Lake, the team discussed the importance of this project to our overall community. The Fountain Lake restoration project is truly a community project. The outcome will not only benefit the Shell Rock River Watershed itself, it will also benefit the city of Albert Lea, Freeborn County, residents, business owners and those visiting our area for years to come. We, again, encourage you to attend our regular meetings and become involved in the project. The public is always welcome to visit our office, attend our public meetings or call/email with questions about our efforts and progress. The community’s interest, support and involvement are imperative for a successful project outcome.
Among the items discussed at the regular meeting, was the announcement of an upcoming “Level II PRAP,” or performance review, to be conducted by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. The Level II PRAP is a routine, interactive review conducted once every 10 years. This review evaluates progress on our water management plan, operational effectiveness and partner relationships. The review will begin shortly and is anticipated to be completed in April. As a district, we are reviewed annually via the PRAP I program (an annual tabulation of required plans and reports for our watershed), also administered by the Board of Water and Soil Resources. We welcome this practice and the feedback from BWSR regarding our clean water efforts.
On Feb. 22, representatives from the city of Albert Lea, Freeborn County, the SRRWD and the Albert Lea Lakes Foundation visited with legislators and special committee members at the Minnesota State Capitol. Our goal was to educate our policy makers regarding the work done in our district since its inception in 2003, to report progress and initiatives and to discuss the impact of the local option sales tax renewal to our community’s clean water efforts. Albert Lea is well represented at the state level, and we took pride in representing you further during this visit.
On March 16, we will be holding our annual board meeting. The meeting is open to the public and will include an introduction to the Watershed District team (board of managers, district staff, Citizen Advisory Committee members and consultants), a review of the SRRWD finances (budget, revenues, expenditures, assets, insurance, etc.), an update on our projects to-date, and a review of our plan for upcoming projects. The meeting will be held in the evening, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at the Freeborn County Government Center. We encourage all community members to learn more about the district by joining us. Additionally, more information about our water management plan, efforts, process, team and goals are available online at our website: www.shellrock.org.