Phase three dredging funds to be pursued in 2020

Published 8:09 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Despite a delayed start due to wet weather, work on confined disposal facility cells two and three is anticipated for the end of the year in time for planned use.

“They just figured they’d be spinning their wheels and not actually putting up good progress on the project so they thought they’d just wait, let it dry out, and hit it with everything they got when it dries up a little bit,” said Shell Rock River Watershed District Administrator Andy Henschel at Tuesday’s watershed board meeting.

A Friday update showed over 328,000 cubic yards had been dredged from Fountain Lake during the duration of the project, including last summer. Last year’s dredging removed just under 300,000 cubic yards of sediment. Dredging began this year in April.

Email newsletter signup

The end target for phase one dredging is between 635,000 and 700,000 cubic yards.

JF Brennan, the dredging and marine construction company conducting the dredging for the Watershed District, worked with the city to have the fishing pier in Edgewater Bay Park moved so the dredge could operate closer to the shoreline — with a variance from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Henschel said. This allowed JF Brennan to dredge areas it missed last year.

The city’s pier has since been reinstalled, Henschel said.

There was no state bonding bill this year, which means the Watershed District’s $7.5 million request for phase three dredging funds will have to be pursued in 2020. However, according to Henschel, other district projects are recipients of legislative funding following its most recent session. The Legislature approved an omnibus bill that included a $2.04 million grant from Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council funds for Shell Rock River Watershed District habitat restoration work.

The district has already submitted a request for more funds for habitat restoration through this funding source, said Shell Rock River Watershed District Resource Technician Courtney Phillips. The district submitted over $4 million in grant requests for Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council funds in May.

Additionally, the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources included funding for One Watershed, One Plan in its Environmental and Natural Resources bill, Henschel said, a program in which the district is participating.

Phillips said the district put out a call for public comments on One Watershed, One Plan. Comments from the public, due June 24, will be incorporated into the district’s plan for the project. A public kickoff meeting for One Watershed, One Plan will occur in July, she said.

Other legislative updates to the board included:

• Compensation for board members, referred to as district managers, increased to up to $125 per day for meetings or performance of other necessary duties, according to the statute. This was an increase from $75, though Henschel said the Shell Rock River Watershed District managers are compensated at $55 per day.

• One tax bill passed with a language change that allows grants and loans from any agency to qualify as construction or implementation funds. In another, watershed districts were granted the ability to levy property taxes to receive funding through state grants as well as loans.

• An amendment was passed to reduce planning strategies for some watershed projects, including total maximum daily load and One Watershed, One Plan. The Legislature is trying to package them so the districts can do less planning and more work on the ground, Henschel said.

In other action, Phillips said the Watershed District has finished one of its three activities in its work plan for the stormwater credit-trading program. The program is intended to both incentivize voluntary pollution reduction efforts made by farmers as well as allow the city to purchase stormwater credits achieved through pollution reduction efforts by upstream landowners.

The district, along with consultant RESPEC, identified and established baselines for the project and is moving on to establishing trade ratios and trade mechanics. Phillips said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been supportive of the effort. The district met with the MPCA technical team May 23.

The district also scheduled a special meeting for 8:30 a.m. June 25 at the Shell Rock River Watershed District office.


About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

email author More by Sarah