Fourth year of dredging on track to begin in 2021

Published 8:18 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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Dredging and marine construction company J.F. Brennan removed a little over 300,000 cubic yards of sediment from Fountain Lake during 2020, in what was its third year of dredging.

Shell Rock River Watershed District Administrator Andy Henschel said in an update to the board of managers Tuesday the company will restart dredging in early spring 2021, with a little under 300,000 cubic yards of sediment left to be removed to complete the second phase of the project.

The phase is expected to be completed in August 2021, and the remainder of dredging will not be able to happen until more state bonding dollars are appropriated to the project.

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An additional $7.5 million is needed to complete the final phase of the project, which includes dredging of the east basin of Fountain Lake’s main bay — from near City Beach to the Fountain Lake Dam — along with limited dredging of Bancroft Bay. Henschel previously stated this phase would take 1 1/2 to two years to complete.

Construction of the second and third confined disposal facilities are completed in anticipation of the remaining dredging sediment.

In other action, the board:

• Moved several end-of-year budget items to a special meeting Dec. 14. At that meeting, the watershed board will approve the 2021 administrative budget and levy, the 2021 project fund tax budget and the debt service levy.

• Accepted the 2019 audit as presented by Hill, Benda, Skov & Bernau, certified public accounting firm.

• Heard a legislative update from district lobbyist Judy Erickson.

Erickson said the Legislature was set to return Monday to the Capitol in regards to the governor’s emergency powers and a COVID-19 relief package for businesses affected by the shutdown.

She said she is preparing for the 2021 legislative session. The new state revenue forecast that came out early last week shows a smaller-than-anticipated budget deficit for the 2022-23 fiscal year, and the current fiscal year is no longer showing a deficit.

There will be three projects that will be a priority for the district in 2021, including one for the third phase of dredging of Fountain Lake, a project through the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources and a project through the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

She said there are new leaders of both the House and Senate capital investment committees, but the other members of the committees have not yet been announced.

• Approved the sale of a 36-by-50-foot barn to Norman Bangert for $310 on the district’s property near Church Lake. Bangert will have until March 15 to remove the structure.

• Approved the district’s 2021 incentive and cost share program.

Project and program manager Courtney Phillips said there will be $1,000 available to go toward 100 rain barrels.

• Approved temporary construction easements on two properties near the outlet of county ditch J-9 where it flows into the south side of Pickerel Lake. The easement will be in place through the end of 2021.