Watershed board to vote on response to DNR, MPCA concerns

The Board of Managers will consider a resolution, which if passed, would issue a response to state regulatory agency comments on an environmental assessment worksheet submitted by the district. The resolution would declare that the effects dredging will have on the environment will be controlled.

The environmental assessment worksheet describes the process and plans the Watershed District has for the dredging project.

“It’s the next big step then to start getting the permits we need for the construction of the (confined disposal facility), and for the actual dredging project on Fountain Lake,” Director of Field Operations Andy Henschel said.

In a response to the Watershed District Sept. 7, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources noted the current confined disposal site used to contain sediments taken from Fountain Lake can only contain less than 1.28 million cubic yards of sediment, which is less than the 1.7 million cubic yards slated for removal from Fountain Lake.

Henschel said the first phase of the project will allow for the filling of three cells used to contain sediment before a second worksheet is completed for the construction of the fourth cell of the CDF in two or three years.

The DNR expressed concern of the potential for dredged sediment to re-enter Fountain Lake through a drainage ditch that enters Fountain Lake.

In a statement regarding the concern, Shell Rock River Watershed District officials said the CDF’s design complies with guidance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“As a result, potential negative interaction of dredged material and groundwater are mitigated through the design of the CDF,” the statement read.

The DNR and MPCA will have 30 days to challenge the environmental assessment worksheet in court.

Once the environmental assessment worksheet is finished, the Watershed District plans to approve a bid for the construction of the CDF, which they hope will start this year and be finished in early 2017.

The Board of Managers still has to finalize a dredge plan.

Henschel said the Watershed District is focused on educating the public ahead of next month’s vote to extend the half-percent sales tax to help fund Fountain Lake dredging and other water quality improvements.

Henschel said he hopes dredging begins by July 1, 2017, or later that year.

“Once I can visually get equipment out there and moving and stuff for this project, I think people will really start getting excited for this,” he said.

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