Dredge slated to be in the lake no later than June of next year

The first phase of the Shell Rock River Watershed District’s dredging of Fountain Lake will begin no later than June 1 of next year, according to dates presented Wednesday at the district’s board of managers workshop.

Potential contractors would be able to start the dredging process earlier than that date if necessary, and that phase — which will be in Edgewater Bay — will conclude no later than Dec. 1, 2019.

The date range will be included in the district’s request for bids that will be issued in mid-August of this year, allowing contractors to be able to account for weather trends and environmental factors in the project.

The district awaits pending permits from multiple agencies, including two from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, one from Freeborn County, one from Minnesota Department of Transportation, one from the city of Albert Lea and one from landowners who will be affected by the dredge pipeline route, according to watershed officials.

Project bids will be released once permits are secured, which is expected this month. A contractor could start building the pipe that will transport sediment from the bottom of Fountain Lake to the site of the confined disposal facility this year.

Progress in the dredging project will be determined by the completion date of the CDF, which is under construction north of Interstate 90 and 1 1/2 miles north of Fountain Lake.

The CDF will house sediment gathered from the bottom of Fountain Lake.

Andy Henschel, director of field operation for the district, walked board managers and staff through maps of pipeline routes, access routes to the lake and the staging area for the project.

Henschel said the timeline for the CDF site is proceeding as scheduled.

The board of managers also discussed the next steps to the restoration project including:

Drafting a language-specific call for bids on phase one of the restoration project.

Identifying a committee to review incoming bids and decide on a contractor to complete the job.

Completing specific training on the best-value-bidding process. The board of managers and the Watershed District staff included in the selection committee will use best-value-bidding to identify a contractor for phase one of the project.

Bids for the project need to be received for an exact project cost to be formed, Behnke said.

On June 2, the Watershed District board of managers initiated the process for issuing an approximately $1.8 million bond that is expected to include an approximately $168,000 property tax levy.

A levy of around $168,000 has been estimated to increase taxes $6 on a home valued at $100,000. The expected property tax levy increase on a $200,000 home has been estimated to be $15, and the property tax is expected to increase taxes about $40 on an 80-acre parcel of land.

The district has received legislative renewal for the half-cent sales tax to be extended for either 15 years or until $15 million has been collected for the project for water quality improvements, including the dredging project. The Watershed District had been looking to the tax levy option as a possible solution to the delay in the Legislature.

With the recent bond issuance, the district is now able to proceed with the first phase of the project.

The first phase of the project is planned to remove 550,000 to 690,000 cubic yards of sediment from Edgewater Bay. District officials said the tax levy provides a secure source of income to ensure bond payments will be made.

The bond would be issued after a credit process is completed and an interest rate is finalized.

Earlier this month, manager Gary Pestorious said that though the district would like to eliminate the property tax as soon as possible. Bonding will allow the district to prepare for the second and third confined disposal facility sites and the second dredge contract.

The district estimates the total cost of phase one of the dredging contract to be $4.4 million. The funding for the project is expected to be covered by $1.2 million in state bonding funds, $1.8 million in bonding — including the $168,000 property tax levy — and $1.4 million in bank funding.

Behnke projected an estimated cost of $7 per cubic yard in phase one of the dredging process.

The bond would be issued after a credit process is completed and an interest rate is finalized.

The next board workshop is slated for 3 p.m. on June 28 at the Shell Rock River Watershed District office. The office is located at 214 W. Main Street in Albert Lea.

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