Watershed board approves change orders following permit delay, other shifts

Published 7:23 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Shell Rock River Watershed District board approved change orders totaling over $50,000 Tuesday as it continues work with Veit & Co. Inc. for construction on the second and third confined disposal facility cells for the Fountain Lake dredging project.

The largest and most recent change order — and a bulk of that cost — asked the district for $40,000 due to a delay in the wetland permit and nonutilization of equipment.

“With the effects of the weather, you know we had such a wet summer and fall, delayed the tile work that we needed to do,” said Shell Rock River Watershed District Board Administrator Andy Henschel. “… Due to those delays, it delayed the permit.”

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The Watershed District board also approved an $11,434 change order for some construction scheduling changes, including a waterway to help remove water from the site. The waterway construction was originally scheduled for this spring, Henschel said, but because of how wet the site was, the district felt it important to be done in the fall. Additionally, a change order for $3,287 for tile repair on the site to help dry the location ahead of construction’s start was approved.

The district approved the initial $2.3 million contract with Veit for construction of CDF cells two and three in September. Sediment dredged from the lake is placed in the CDF sites, where the water is siphoned off and returns back to the lake.

The Watershed District board approved another change for the district: a project design change that would see a rock berm barrier rather than an electric fish barrier installed at Lower Twin Lake.

District Conservation Technician Scott Christenson said the barrier will be a berm made of smooth fieldstone with enough space between each rock that allows water to pass through, but not fish. The type of barrier has been utilized by the Iowa Department of National Resources for several years, Christenson said.

The district began looking at alternatives after electric fish barriers became more and more expensive, Christenson said.

“It will definitely be quite a bit cheaper,” he said of the rock berm barrier.

Christenson said he hopes to have a design for the barrier finalized with comments from the DNR and Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources sometime in the late fall.

Also at the meeting, Henschel said the Watershed District had been assigned, following the district’s request, a new Minnesota Pollution Control Agency staff lead for total maximum daily load work with the district. Establishing a total maximum daily load, or the maximum amount of a pollutant allowed in a waterbody, is mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency to the state and needed for the district to request certain funding, Henschel said.

Henschel said the district started the process to establish a total maximum daily load in 2009, and as of 2019, it has yet to be completed. It is supposed to be redone every 10 years.

“We’re sitting at year 10, and we don’t have a completed TMDL from the first 10 years, which is ridiculous,” Henschel said. “So with that, we feel that there is still money tied to a TMDL that we haven’t been able to go after for cost share, for grants, for these projects, and it’s getting frustrating for district not being able to apply for those funds.”

The new staff lead from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is Emily Bartusek, a watershed project manager based in Rochester. She said at the meeting she is looking forward to being in Albert Lea on a regular basis and providing updates when she can.

“Our goal is to really focus and expedite the TMDL process and so our goal is to have something public noticed before the end of the year,” Bartusek said.

Bartusek said after the meeting that the staff change was due to “dispersal of workload” and wanting to meet deadlines.

In other action:

• The Shell Rock River Watershed District board moved to pursue bonding dollars for flood mitigation projects. Henschel said the district reached out to District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett and District 27 Sen. Dan Sparks to request $3.5 million for flood mitigation for U.S. Highway 65, which is also known as Main Street. The Watershed District is working with the city on this, Henschel said. The city passed a similar resolution at its Monday City Council meeting.

• The board approved a request for funding and district equipment use for the Albert Lea Lakes Foundation annual lake cleanup, set for 9 a.m. to noon April 27. Supplies include two dumpsters, gloves, garbage bags and buckets. District equipment includes use of its UTV and potentially use of the district’s boat, Henschel said.

Laura Cunningham of the Albert Lea Lakes Foundation said the cleanup event is a good reminder for citizens to be cognizant.

“We’re a community that’s bordered by lakes, and we have to do our part,” she said.

• The dredge pipe and pipe fusion machine owned by the district are going on their third cycle on online auction site IronPlanet. The Watershed District has looked at reducing some costs on those while still placing them at a good price to recoup money for the district, Henschel said. The pumps have been sold, and while the dredge has not been sold, Henschel said there has been some interest in both the dredge and pipe recently.

• Consulting services from RESPEC for One Watershed, One Plan were approved as the lowest bid submitted out of three, Watershed District Resource Technician Courtney Phillips said.

• The Shell Rock River Watershed District will host dredge tours at Edgewater Bay May 10 during the Governor’s Fishing Opener. Henschel said the district has worked with Brennan, the dredging and marine construction company awarded the district’s dredging contract for phases one and two, to arrange the tours and ensure safety. The tours will take eight people at a time out to the dredge, which will be in operation.


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