Board votes to put district’s dredge up for sale

Published 7:53 pm Tuesday, June 26, 2018

With dredging underway a few miles from the Freeborn County Boardroom, the Watershed District’s board of managers dredging committee recommended Tuesday that the district part with its own dredge.

The Shell Rock River Watershed District purchased a dredge in 2012 at an auction in Owatonna. According to the recommendation, read by dredging committee member Gary Pestorious, the dredge has never been used since its purchase.

The 2010 IMS 7012 HP 51-foot Versi dredge was purchased for $340,000 and the pumps, piping and equipment to go with it for $435,000. The district has paid Albert Lea Diesel and Chrome LLC $250 a month since last fall to store it outdoors. Before that, it was stored in a building owned by Cole Pestorious — Gary Pestorious’ son — for $400 a month. Prior to that, it was stored inside a building at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds but had to be moved twice a year.

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“It is in the district’s best interest to sell the dredge,” Gary Pestorious read from the recommendation.

According to Watershed District Administrator Andy Henschel, the district staff recommended the sale, and the dredging committee agreed.

“At this time … the best thing in the best interest of the district is to look at selling the district dredge and creating a liquid asset to put back into the project,” Henschel said.

One of the three district-owned booster pumps is being used by Brennan for dredging. However, Henschel said after the meeting that J.F. Brennan is leasing all three of the pumps in case one breaks. While the remainder of the equipment would be sold with the dredge, the pumps would not be sold due to their use in the project.

Fountain Lake’s dredging process is moving forward with the dredge provided and operated by dredging and marine construction company Brennan. Henschel said Brennan provides him with a daily report of operations, and so far, the total cubic yards removed from Fountain Lake add up to an estimated 28,890. That estimate is based off of bathymetry, a measure of the lake’s depth and underwater topography, and comparing what it is now to what it was prior to dredging.

Henschel said the project has been “moving right along.”

Water and sediment removed by the dredge travel through pipe to be deposited at the confined disposal facility, where sediment will settle and water will be emptied into an unnamed creek to make its way back into the lake. Henschel said as of Tuesday morning, water has not yet been pumped out from the CDF. He anticipated discharge waters starting in the next few weeks.

Henschel said all three shifts of the fire department and the county sheriff have been out to the dredge to go over safety scenarios with Brennan.

“We’re really stressing the safety portion of this project,” Henschel said.

In other action:

A $42,000 contract was approved with O’Brien & Gere for the final engineering of CDF cells two and three. Construction sequencing was changed in May because OBG was running into large deposits of peat, Henschel said. After performing tests, OBG concluded a process that starts a year early, builds on top of the peat, allows the peat to settle and then returns to finish the construction work.

“What we’re looking at here is a pushed-up timeline for cells two and three with this process,” Henschel said.

All the permits are in place except for one, Henschel said. He said the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been made aware of construction changes and does not anticipate much of a permit change, if any.

The Watershed District board held off on a vote relating to a conflict of interest involving board manager Mick Delger. An earlier meeting this month approved updates to the Shell Rock River Watershed District office. Delger is the owner of Albert Lea Electric Co., which has agreed to provide electrical upgrades to the district office for $8,730. The board did not hold a discussion or a vote because there were not enough members at the meeting to have a quorum after Delger recused himself from the vote. Including Delger, there were four board members in attendance.

The board of managers authorized district staff to put Wedge Creek fixes out for a bid. In the 2016 Federal Emergency Management Agency flooding event, some restoration work on Wedge Creek was damaged, Henschel said. The repairs will be made with funds already requested from FEMA. Estimated costs of the project come close to $54,111. Delger asked if there is a timeline by which the district is required to use FEMA funds. Henschel said the deadline is July, but the district would request an extension.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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