12 Companies Show Interest in Fountain Lake Dredging

A dozen contractors expressed interest in the Fountain Lake dredging project during a request for qualifications issued earlier this year, according to the Shell Rock River Watershed District.

The request for qualifications helps district officials find out which contractors may be interested in the project and what their backgrounds, insurance, safety and experience are from prior projects.

The process began in February, and the results were presented to the watershed board last week. Of the 12 who submitted responses, at least five were considered highly qualified, said Rich

Weber, a representative from Natural Resource Technology, who the district hired to help find a contractor for the dredging.

"Overall, we were pleased to see the amount of interest this project has generated," Weber said. District staff have been preparing for the dredging since 2003 by completing projects in the

tributary watershed including carp removal, installation of fish barriers, renovating dozens of failed septic systems and installation ofbuffer strips on farm land.

Last June, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a ceremonial bill for $7.5 million in state funds, and the district has $7.5 million to match from a half-cent sales tax in Albert Lea.

The district in 2012 purchased a 2010 IMS 7012 HP 51-foot Versi hydraulic dredge for about

$340,000, along with the pipes, pumping and other equipment necessary to pump the dredge material away from the lake for $435,000. It is not clear whether that dredge will be used for the entire lake.

For the last few months, district staff and Natural Resource Technology have been working to put details into the structure of the project.

Project Manager Andy Henschel with the Shell Rock River Watershed District said the board of managers now has to approve what type of dewatering process it will go with for the project. The most cost effective method is known as a confined disposal facility.

Once the board votes on which process to use, the district will begin talking with landowners and looking for areas of disposal. It will issue a request for proposals, which includes bids, Henschel said. This may happen in July or August.

"It's moving fast now," Henschel said.

Watershed District Administrator Brett Behnke said it is still his goal to begin the permitting this year with the dredging to begin in 2016.

© 2015 Shell Rock River Watershed District, 305 S 1st Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007