District wraps up 1st year of dredging, prepares for next

Published 8:27 pm Tuesday, October 9, 2018

It’s both the end and the beginning of dredging on Fountain Lake as the Watershed District wrapped up dredging for 2018 on Friday and set bidding for the second contract in motion at the Tuesday board meeting.

J.F. Brennan, the dredging and marine construction company awarded the dredging contract for phase one, stopped dredging Edgewater Bay Friday and is now winterizing the dredge. Watershed District Administrator Andy Henschel said the company is finishing early this season because they have removed roughly 300,000 cubic yards of sediment. This puts them on pace with its contract.

Henschel asked snowmobilers and ice fishers to use caution when near the dredge over the winter.

The second contract will dredge approximately 700,000 cubic yards of sediment out of the western portion of Fountain Lake. Board manager Mick Delger said word was going around Dane Bay might not be dredged.

“That’s absolutely a rumor,” Henschel said. Dane Bay is part of contract two dredging.

Henschel said the intention of getting the bid out at this time is to allow the company that wins the bid to schedule for the project in 2020.

“We feel that this is the best route to get — again — the best cost for the district,” he said.

Bid qualifications changed slightly for the second contract. Henschel said the dredge committee recommended lowering some past performance/experience criteria because several companies that proposed bids did not meet the pass-fail criteria in that category. Additionally, using the district’s dredge and pump is no longer an option for bidders.

Henschel estimated the district’s dredge would be up for sale within three weeks.

Points potentially awarded to bidders for use of the district’s dredge were instead replaced by points for the bidder’s proposed weir system and operation of confined disposal facility cells, which return water to the lake and store removed sediment, respectively.

Henschel said operation of the CDF “is going to be a key component of contract two because they’ll have to actually be operating all three CDF cells instead of just one, so we feel that that’s an important piece to add to best value criteria for contract two,” Henschel said.

The board approved these changes.

Engineering company O’Brien & Gere will work with the Shell Rock River Watershed District to oversee bidding and procurement of the second contract, a service that will cost the district $39,800.

OBG is also providing engineering support and overseeing construction of CDF cells two and three. Henschel said the project will take two years. Specialty construction company Veit & Co. Inc. received the construction contract in September and, to combat unsuitable soils, will build, allow the soil to settle, then continue building.

“We have a big ask for OBG here to oversee all this,” Henschel said. He noted OBG was crucial in helping manage construction of the first CDF cell.

Construction costs for cells two and three are a little over $2.3 million, Henschel said. OBG’s oversight would cost $235,900.

OBG Project Manager Todd Lewis said construction is driven by weather. That construction has begun, though wet weather means it has been slow-moving, Henschel said.

“We’re on the launchpad right now,” Lewis said. “As soon as the weather window opens, we’re ready.”

In other action:

The Watershed District board approved the Pickerel Lake wetlands restoration plans and project. The wetland uses targeted watershed funding the district received last year for around 40 acres of wetland restoration. Approximately 20 of those acres will become wetlands, Henschel said.

Resource Technician Courtney Phillips said the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council tentative budget forecasts the district will receive approximately $2.05 million in funding at the end of the next legislative session. The allocation still needs to be written into a bill.

The board awarded approximately 5,000 cubic yards of dirt from its CDF dirt pile to Jensen Excavating and Trucking LLC. The district received two bids, and the bid from Jensen was the highest. Watershed board treasurer Al Bakken declared a conflict of interest and abstained from the vote. He is related to the owner of Jensen Excavating and Trucking.

The city of Albert Lea received quotes to update its aeration system. The Watershed District board approved purchasing a replacement system with the understanding the city would take on the system’s running costs.

Watershed District Conservation Technician Scott Christenson said bids to put a pump station on the outlet of Upper Twin Lake went out Friday. Bids are due Nov. 6. Substantial completion is expected by June.

The board approved quote requests for both the continuation of the district’s carp study into 2019 as well as the 2018 water monitoring report. Christenson said field work for the report is wrapping up for the year and moving into processing data for the report.

Lakes Foundation president Brian Hensley said the group is cooperating with the city to team up for a combined Just Play and Albert Lea Floats event. He also encouraged community members to volunteer their help with activities for guests at the Governor’s Fishing Opener. There is no Lakes Foundation meeting in October. The group will meet at 4 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Convention and Visitors Bureau office.

Phillips introduced the Minnesota GreenCorps member placed at the Shell Rock River Watershed District. Claire Rabine will work with stormwater management, rain barrels, rain gardens and the city’s urban forestry department.

“We’re excited to have her and we hope she gets a lot accomplished in the 11-month term we have her for,” Phillips said.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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