Board approves purchasing new watershed equipment for quality control, assurance

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

When the watershed district goes low with the dredge, it also goes HYPACK with its equipment purchases.

Board managers approved two equipment purchases Tuesday at the Shell Rock River Watershed District board meeting. The equipment is intended to provide the district with quality control and quality assurance for the Fountain Lake restoration project, Watershed District Administrator Andy Henschel said.

“I think as a watershed, trying to keep our lakes and clean rivers and everything, I think we have to stay on top of technology, and if we don’t are we guessing or do we want to know the real truth?” said board manager Mick Delger. “So, I think it’s a good idea. I think it’s worth the money.”

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According to the motion, that money is not to exceed $40,000 after sales tax and shipping costs. Some of that will be use to purchase the SonTek RiverSurveyor M9, an update to the district’s current S5 model. The district’s current equipment is used to calculate flows during high water. Henschel said the equipment works well, but the upgrade allows the district to add bathymetry, a form of underwater mapping, to its abilities.

Henschel said the district can use the RiverSurveyor to QAQC dredge cuts made by J.F. Brennan, the company hired to conduct the dredging underway in Edgewater Bay, and to calculate the volumes Brennan has dredged. Henschel said the district is also looking at HYPACK, a software that could help the district produce maps for the city and the public to see what the dredge cuts look like.

Henschel said the district can use the equipment to update the most recent lake bathymetry, done in 2009, to have a more precise map when going out to bid for phase two of the dredging project.

The second upgrade would deal with the Trimble GPS unit, an upgrade to which would help the district be more precise when doing project management and day-to-day operations.

Henschel said the Watershed District can trade in its current SonTek S5.

The Watershed District is intending to offload more equipment in the form of its dredge, the sale of which was approved at a special meeting in June.

“There’s no doubt that by owning the dredge that it definitely drove the prices down for phase one of the Fountain Lake Restoration project, and it also told all of the agencies that we had to permit that we were serious and committed to dredging Fountain Lake,” Henschel said.

The process of the sale is governed by Minnesota law, and the district has and will issue a request for a bid for the dredge’s sale, Henschel said. He said the sale will most likely occur in an internet silent auction.

Dan Deboer, a member of the district’s dredge committee, said the committee agreed it would be better to sell the dredge and to use the influx of cash from its sale to put back into the project. He said owning the dredge added momentum to the project’s start.

“They bought the dredge in 2012 expecting to use it within two years,” Henschel said. He said the dredge is not being used and accruing storage costs, and the difference between owning a dredge and not owning a dredge in future bids for future projects will not make a financial difference now that the standard for prices has been established by this first dredging contract with Brennan. He and DeBoer said they both hope the district can recoup its costs on the dredge.

“You never know when it’s a public bid process,” Henschel said.

On Fountain Lake, the project underway with Brennan’s dredge continues. Henschel said they have not discharged any water from the CDF yet. He estimated discharge would start within a week or two.

“Everything we are seeing so far is looking pretty good,” Henschel said.

In other action:

• The Shell Rock River Watershed District reappointed two board members: managers Mike Hanson and Joe Pacovsky. Both will serve for three more years. The board members also shuffled roles amongst themselves. Former chairman DeBoer now serves as secretary. Former vice chairman Gary Pestorious was nominated and approved as chairman; with Mick Delger, former secretary, taking on the role of vice chairman. Treasurer Alan Bakken was nominated and will serve again in the same position. No other nominations were made for any of the positions.

• The board agreed to put out for bid one of its two dirt piles created by the construction of the Confined Disposal Facilities, where sediment from the dredging is to be stored. Henschel said the district is receiving requests from contractors who are interested in obtaining the dirt. He said the district is looking at selling one pile and retaining one for the city and county to “just have some” if they would like to use the dirt. Henschel said the dirt pile approved to put out for bid is approximately 700 cubic yards, but that the district is still fine-tuning quantities.

• Watershed District offices will move forward with updates to be provided by Albert Lea Electric after the board recognized a potential conflict of interest with manager Mick Delger, an owner of Albert Lea Electric. The district received two bids for the office updates, the lower of which was from Albert Lea Electric. Delger abstained from voting.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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