TURTLE CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT 2021 ANNUAL REPORT
Rena Langowski Ph
Photo by Rachel Dickman
2021 Board of Managers Front row:
Pete Van Erkel
Turtle Creek Watershed District 1408 21st Ave NW, Ste. #2
Austin, MN 55912
(507) 434-2603, ext. 5
Turtle Creek Watershed District Established:
November 14th, 1968
1408 21st Ave NW Suite 2 Austin, Mn. 55912
3rd Tuesday of each month 5:00 PM City of Hollandale and Riceland Township Government Center Hollandale, Mn. 56045
Kurt A. Deter—Rinke-Noonan 1015 W. St. Germain St. Suite 300 PO Box 1497 St. Cloud, Mn. 56302 320-251-6700 email: Kdeter@rnoon.com
Nancy K. Finley 24701 515th Ave Austin, Mn. 55912 507-438-4473 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
28933 872nd Ave Austin, Mn. 55912 507-438-1939 email: email@example.com
82329 290th St. Hollandale, Mn 56045 507-383-6428 email: jeffRaven@hotmail.com
911 18th St. SW Austin, Mn. 55912 507-438-2339 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
28674 810th Ave Hollandale, Mn. 56045 507-383-4981 email: email@example.com
Peter H. VanErkel
27843 825th Ave Hollandale, Mn. 56045 507-383-3079 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following Officers for 2022 were elected: Chairperson Vice Chairman Treasurer Secretary Manager
Michelle O’Connor Dave Vanderploeg Jon Erichson Peter Van Erkel Jeff Ravenhorst
Turtle Creek Watershed District Advisory Committee elected March 2021: Allan Ravenhorst Brad Edwards Dean Reed Mike DenHerder Arlen Schamber
Hollandale, Mn. Hollandale, Mn Hollandale, Mn. Hollandale, Mn Austin, Mn
56045 56045 56045 56045 55912
507-383-6893 507-383-9445 507-402-0403 507-383-1078 507-993-3985
The Turtle Creek Watershed Board of Managers held 12 regular meetings and provided Zoom access for those wishing to participate in the meeting via Zoom during the year 2021. The following permit applications were approved by the Managers during this year: 38 tiling permits, 4 Culvert/Bridge repair, 1 repair storm sewer, 1 Wetland Restoration, 1 Urban Development, 1 clean ditch, 1 Improvement to Hickory Lake Dam and 2 Renewal permits for a total of 49 applications. The budget for 2022 is set as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.
Attorney Fees (Rinke Noonan ) Recording Secretary /Expenses Managers Administrative Services (Mower SWCD) Audit and Monthly Financial Services Viewers Association and MAWD Dues Insurance Advertising and Postage Rent Water Monitoring and Water Plan Incentives, Cost Sharing, Projects Tree Removal Beaver Tails Clean Water Legacy
$ 11,800.00 $ 6000.00 $ 6250.00 $ 17,000.00 $ 6500.00 $ 3500.00 $ 2200.00 $ 1000.00 $ 650.00 $ 7500.00 $ 16,500.00 $ 19,400.00 $ 3000.00 $ 12,700.00 Total $ 114,000.00
In January 2021 the Managers met this month at 4 O’clock P.M. for the annual planning workshop which includes discussion of the goals set from the past year as well as the goals to accomplish in the year 2021. Justin Hanson attended the planning meeting to provide information on the approved and allocated 1W1P budget for water quality projects in the targeted Geneva Lake Watershed. This is the largest allocation of conservation funds likely ever to our Watershed. Steve Lawler will draft a copy of the Work Plan for 2021 for the Managers for the February meeting. Also, at the January meeting Steve Lawler reported the only correspondence he has received is an Excellence Award Certificate to the Turtle Creek Watershed District from Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust in recognition of an Outstanding Loss Ratio under 50% Property and Casualty plan for years 2015-2019. Also, in January Justin Hanson attended the meeting and reports the Mower SWCD was appointed the fiscal agent for distribution of funds associated with the 1W1P grant. If TWCD choses to administer cost share contracts using 1W1P funds in the future, this sub-agreement clarifies the roles and responsibilities of both parties for reimbursements. At the January 2021 meeting Steve Penkava provided the Crop damages report as follows: It is the policy of Freeborn County to set a rate of pay for crop damages that may occur due to repair, improvement, or construction projects. This is done at the beginning of the year for the entire year. The yield is determined by using a three-year average yield for Freeborn County from data received from the USDA. (National Agricultural Statistics Services)
The sale price is determined by using an average sale price for “new crop” corn and beans from three local elevators on January 6th 2021. Corn damage rate Bean damage rate
190.9 bushels @ $3.96 = $756 per acre 52.6 bushels @ $10.84 = $570 per acre
Freeborn County Crop Damage Rate for 2021 (Not planted) It is the policy of Freeborn County to set a rate of pay for crop damage that may occur due to repair, improvement, or construction projects. This is done at the beginning of the year for the entire year. In anticipation of an upcoming project the County may occasionally ask a landowner not to plant the area to be worked on. This gives the Contractor more time to complete projects and may also result in better quotes. The rate of pay for not planted acres is $400. Per acre. This rate is based off from an average annual rental rate of approximately $225. The first year the unplanted acres would have no yield The second-year yield reduction would be approximately 50% because the soil has been disturbed. The third-year yield reduction would be approximately 25% because the soil has been disturbed The fourth year the yield should be back to normal. These two documents have been signed by 3 Drainage Ditch Viewers and Pat Martinson Freeborn County Auditor-Treasure. Pete made a motion to accept these reports seconded by Dave and carried. At the February 2021 meeting Steve Lawler reports he was able to contact Jeanine on the concerns raised about the lack of a fish barrier on newly proposed culverts for the J26 re-construction project. This is a reply received via email from Jeanine: I was/am aware of the proposed culvert replacement on Co. 26. Both Freeborn County and DNR Eco-Waters staff reached out to me for comment. I am less concerned about the loss of the fish barrier than I was a decade ago. We have a much more effective barrier at the lake dam than we did at the beginning of our lake management efforts. Due to the level grade, a barrier at the Co. 26 culvert is a partial barrier at best. The proposed design does not preclude retrofitting something if we come to regret this decision, although it would not be as easy as the box culvert has been. From a lake management perspective, I would like to see it set at least 6” lower so the water level could follow the lake level down a bit further. This would facilitate winterkill when indicated. However, I also understand this can be a bit of an ask given the many factors at play when road culverts are replaced. Thanks for checking. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or need more information. After discussion Jon requested Steve Lawler follow up with Jeanine regarding the fish barrier, and possibly have Jeanine attend the next meeting if she is available. Also, at the February 2021 meeting at 5:30 P.M. Chairperson Michelle called to order the Redetermination Hearing before the Turtle Creek Watershed District Board of Managers acting as Drainage Authority for county Ditch J12. Atty Kurt Deter provided a copy of the agenda for everyone in attendance and explained the Purpose of the Hearing. Pat Martinson -Freeborn County Auditor-
Treasure verified the Record of notice requirements with dates of publication. Mark Behrends spoke for the Viewers and explained their report completed under Minnesota Statues 103E, the damages and benefits determined and how they arrive at these facts. With no public comment Att’y Deter stated the following three agenda items must be considered: 1) The Viewers’ Report has been made and other proceedings have been completed under Minnesota Statutes 103E. 2) The Viewers’ Report made or amended is complete and correct. 3) The damages and benefits have been properly determined Pete made a motion to approve the Redetermination of Benefits as the above 3 items have been met seconded by Dave. Pete, aye; Dave, aye; Jon, aye; Jeff, aye. Motion carried. Att’y Deter will draft an Order for the March 2021 meeting. At this time the Final Hearing Before the Turtle Creek Watershed District Board of Manages acting as Drainage Authority for County Ditch J12 was called to order. Att’y Kurt Deter Provided copies of the agenda for everyone in attendance then explained the purpose of the Final Hearing, Pat Martinson—Freeborn County Auditor-Treasure verified the record of Notice requirements and dates of publication. Steve Penkava gave the Engineer’s report including maps and Power Point presentation. Att’y Deter gave the DNR report. Mark Behrends gave the Viewers report and Att’y Donnelly gave a brief report. At this point Att’y Deter advised the Managers they had the following 7 areas to consider: a. The Final Engineer’s Report and Viewers’ Report have been made and other proceedings have been completed under Minnesota Statutes 103E. b. The reports made or amended are complete and correct. c. The damages and benefits have been properly determined. d. The estimated benefits are greater than the total estimated costs, including damages. e. The proposed drainage project will be of public utility and benefit and will promote the public health. f. The proposed drainage project is practicable.
g. The repair portion allocated by the engineer as repairs is assessed against all property benefitted by the entire drainage system and the balance of the cost of the Improvement is assessed against the property benefited by the Improvement. Pete made a motion to Establish the Improvement as the above 7 areas have been approved seconded by Dave. Pete, aye; Dave, aye; Jon, aye, Jeff, aye. Motion carried. At the March 2021 meeting Pat Martinson, Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer, attended the meeting to report that the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners took action to call and redeem the GO Watershed Bonds, Series 2013 which fund the Deer Creek and Swenson Lateral projects. The county plans to pay off the bonds from its General Fund and loan the balance of the debt to the watershed at an interest rate to be determined by the Freeborn County board. The end result should be a debt with a lower rate of interest than what is currently in place. The loan and terms are scheduled to be passed at a May County Board meeting. Dave Vanderploeg reported he attended the Freeborn County Commissioners meeting this month for updates and any questions and/or concerns they may have for the Turtle Creek Board and states it went well. Several new faces attending. Dave provided the Commissioners with copies of the 2020 TCWD annual report. Steve Lawler discussed the MAWD Event for hosting a virtual Legislative Event on March 17th at 1:00 P.M. and provided the tentative agenda. Jon may be interested in attending the conference virtually. James Fett—Mower SWCD attended the meeting as a follow up request from the Managers for a summary of the 2020 water monitoring data. James explained the data with handouts and a power point presentation. After discussion Dave made a motion to continue collecting water samples and also use baseline monitoring information to prioritize future monitoring effects. Seconded by Pete and carried. At the April 2021 meeting Steve Penkava presented the Detailed Tabulation of Bids received for the Improvement to County Ditch No J12. A total of 5 bidders provided quotes for the project. After reviewing the bids and reputation of contractor with good experience with company and its personnel, Steve recommended DeCook Drainage, Inc. with the low bid of $105,757.94, this is 15.5 percent below the Engineer’s estimate and approximately 12.8 percent below the next lowest bid. After discussion Jeff made a motion to accept this bid seconded by Dave and carried. Steve reports the Contracts should be ready to sign by the Chair Person at the May 2021 meeting. Steve Lawler reported he and Jon had attended the Mower County Commissioners meeting and felt it was a very good meeting. Steve recognized Nancy for the Annual report she prepares and states it is a valuable tool in their meetings with the Commissioners. At the May 2021 meeting Jon distributed and explained the 2020 Audit Questionnaire the Auditors request completing each year by each Manager which tracts any transaction between TCWD and any private parties. The questionnaires were signed by the Managers and returned to Jon who will forward them to CliftonLarsonAllen LLP. Also, at the May meeting, during the April meeting Phil Walcholz mentioned he reviewed the cost estimates for dropping the culvert elevations along the Geneva lake segment of the CR 26
Reconstruction Project to help accommodate lake management. The discussion was tabled until the May meeting due to not having a full Board for discussion in April 2021. After discussion at the May 2021 meeting Dave made a motion to keep the elevation of culverts the same seconded by Jon and carried. Jeff abstained. Dave made a motion to request the DNR to put Fish Barriers in place, seconded by Jon and carried. Jeff Abstained. Steve Lawler will coordinate with Phil regarding this discussion. Jeanine Vorland was also present for the discussion. At the June 2021 meeting Dennis Magnuson attended the meeting and is concerned about the size of rip rap placed by the Freeborn County Highway Department under the County Road 103 bridge over Deer Creek on the north line of Section 34, Newry Township. Dennis states the material is too small and will be washed away. Steve Lawler reports over the weekend a neighborhood group of family and friends from the 6th to 8th Street SW corridor of Turtle Creek in Austin took it upon themselves to clean up this section of the creek. Approximately 250 pounds of junk was pulled out of the channel, not including a port-a-potty that floated all the down from Hollandale. Steve will send a thank you of recognition to these people. At the July 2021 meeting correspondence included a report from Steve Lawler the MAWD summer meeting will be an online meeting on July 22nd 2021 starting at 1 P.M. The meeting will include a legislative recap, report on how MAWD is progressing at the midpoint of our strategic plan with discussion on the next steps for finishing this plan and starting the next, and a presentation on the resolutions process. There is no charge for this event. Any Manager wishing to attend Steve will help them register on line. Also, in July Jon made a motion for financial support from Turtle Creek Watershed on the Hickory Lake improvement project to match the Landowner’s contribution up to $5000.00 seconded by Pete and carried. Mark Behrends—Viewer attended the meeting to report on the J24 redetermination .and answer any questions the Board may have on the Redetermination. Mark states their work is completed and they are ready to proceed with a public hearing. Steve Penkava has discussed with Pat Martinson her time frame for preparation of the notices and publication for the hearing. Steve Lawler has contacted Riverland College in Austin to reserve a facility for the hearing. After discussion Pete made a motion to set the hearing date for Tuesday September 21st, 2021 at 4 P.M. in the afternoon at Riverland College in Austin, Mn. seconded by Jon and carried. Dave made a motion to authorize up to $2500.00 to continue the History data collection seconded by Jeff and carried. Steve Penkava presented the 2021 brush control bid summary from B & W Control Specialist in the total of $17,500.00. Pete made a motion to authorize Steve to continue with B & W Specialist as they have done a good job for TCWD and generally come in under budget seconded by Jeff and carried. Grazing has been discussed at previous meetings, Steve Penkava provided a copy of the District policy which states: It is the responsibility of each landowner to provide adequate fencing to restrict animal access to the open ditch and one-rod grass strip. If fencing is not installed, the landowner will be in violation of the TURTLE CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT grass strip policy.
Steve Penkava distributed a copy of the Policy handbook for the Managers to review and consider updating due to questions being brought before the Board of Managers. Justin Hanson presented an area of concern on a piece of property in Moscow Township, owned by Ms. Aristeakonanakis. SWCD staff have been working with the renter to address an extensive runoff issue on her farm. The outlet of the farm is JD #24. The outlet will require maintenance at some point as it has washed out. District Engineer Penkava suggested that the outlet could be repaired when the field washout issue was addressed. SWCD staff will work with all parties to facilitate a project that will reduce runoff on this field. The TCWD may be approached as a project partner in the future. At the August 2021 meeting the Proposed Budget hearing was held, you will find a copy of the budget at the beginning of this report. Also, in August the following notice was discussed; The public hearing for JD24 redetermination will be held at 4:00 P.M. at Riverland West in Austin room B116 on September 21st, 2021 Following the JD24 redetermination hearing at 4 P.M. the following hearing will be held at 5:15 P.M. PLEASE TAKE NOTICE, the Turtle Creek Watershed District, sitting as Drainage Authority for County Ditch J12, will hold a public hearing at 5:15 p.m. on September 21, 2021, at Riverland College in Room B116, located at 1900 8th Avenue NW, Austin, Minnesota 55912. The purpose of the hearing is to review the Engineer’s Report to the Drainage Authority, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 103E.555, showing that the contract to construct the Improvement to County Ditch J12 is complete. The Engineer’s Report has been filed with the Drainage Authority and is available for public inspection at the Freeborn Auditor-Treasurer’s Office. Any party objecting to the acceptance of the contract may appear at the hearing and be heard. At the September 2021 meeting The Turtle Creek Watershed Board of Managers met at 4 O’clock P.M. at the Riverland College West, Room B116 located at 1900 8th Ave NW, Austin, Minnesota 55912 At 4:10 P.M. Chair Person Michelle called the Redetermination Hearing to order with a welcome and thank you to all who attended. Att’y Kurt Deter explained the purpose of the Hearing is to review the Engineer’s Report to the Drainage Authority pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 103E.555 showing that the Viewers Redetermination of Benefits is complete. Pat Martinson—Freeborn County Auditor-Treasure verified the Record of notice requirements including mailings and dates of publications in the Austin Daily Herald in Mower County and the Albert Lea Tribune Freeborn County. Mark Behrends spoke for the Viewers Report, distributing a map and statistics for Freeborn/Mower JCD J-24 information including break down of acres in Sub watershed for everyone to follow along with the “overhead” slides. The Viewers Report has been filed with the Drainage Authority and is available for public inspection at the Freeborn Auditor-Treasures office and on the Freeborn County Website. At this point the hearing was open for public comment and questions regarding Redetermination of Benefits to those attending and also to those participating via Zoom.
After hearing no further questions or comments from the public Pete made a motion to adjourn the hearing to the public for the Board’s discussion seconded by Jeff and carried. Hearing no further discussion Pete VanErkel made a motion to include 1) The Viewers’ Report has been made and other proceedings have been completed under Minnesota Statutes 103E. 2) The reports made or amended are complete and correct. 3) The damages and benefits have been properly determined. Therefore, he moved to accept the Redetermination of Benefits, the motion seconded by Jeff and carried. Atty Deter will draft the Final Order for the 30-day appeal for the ditch file and present it to the Board meeting in October 2021 for the Chairperson to sign. At 5:15 Michelle recessed the regular meeting to call to order the Acceptance Hearing. Att’y Deter explained the purpose of the hearing as the Turtle Creek Watershed District, sitting as Drainage Authority for County Ditch J12 to review the Engineer’s Report to the Drainage Authority. Improvement to County Ditch J12 is complete The Engineer’s Report has been filed with the Drainage Authority and is available for public inspection at the Freeborn Auditor-Treasures’ office. Pat Martinson Freeborn County Auditor-Treasure verified the record of notices requirements including mailing dates and publications in the Austin Daily Herald—Mower County and Albert lea Tribune—Freeborn County. In Engineer Steve Penkava’s absence Att’y Deter and Steve Lawler answered any questions the public had and referred anyone to speak directly with the Engineer if they had further questions. Pete made a motion to close the hearing to the public seconded by Jeff and carried. Hearing no further discussion Pete made a motion to accept the Contract that has been completed in accordance with the plans and specifications. Seconded by Jon and carried. Att’y Deter will draft the Final Order and bring to the October 2021 meeting for a signature by the Chair Person. Also, in September 2021 Dennis Magnuson addressed the Board with concerns regarding upkeep on the ditches. After discussion it was decided to add it to the agenda for the January Work session that the managers hold to plan for the upcoming year. Att’y Deter will check with other Watersheds to see if they have a specific policy in place for landowners and ditch maintenance. In Steve Penkava’s absence Steve Lawler distributed a copy of the 2022 Repair Fund levy with Levy options and 2009-2021 repair fund levy summary. After discussion Jon made a motion to increase the Levy to $200,000.00 seconded by Pete and carried. At the October 2021 meeting Att’y Deter has prepared the Finding of Fact and Board Orders for the JCD 24 Redetermination of Benefits and the CD12 Acceptance of Contract Pete VanErkel signed these documents. Nancy will forward copies to both Mower and Freeborn County Auditors-Treasures office along with a copy in the files at Mower SWCD. Justin Hanson attended the October meeting and gave a brief report on the One Watershed One Plan stating things are going well and Turtle Creek Watershed has been very involved. At the November 2021 meeting Steve Lawler handed out copies of the Virtual Conference for December 1-3,2021 The MAWD annual meeting will again be an on-line virtual meeting. Any Manager interested n
participating should contact Steve for assistance in registration. The fee is $99.00 per participant this year. Pat Martinson was unable to attend the November meeting however she sent copies of the J12 Repair and Improvement Spread to Taxes for each Manager to review. Pat states she is looking at spreading the assessments at 3.25% interest over 10 years. She is taking it to the Board on November 30th and will ask for a loan from the County to cover the costs. She will be sending letters out the first of December giving landowners 30 days to pay without interest if they choose to pay off the assessment in full and not extent it to the taxes. Pat’s report also included a statement showing the breakdown cost of construction. Steve Lawler distributed a budget summary of 1W1P projects and remaining budgets for 2022. Jon and Pete lead the discussion regarding 1W1P which Pete felt should be a shared position of the Managers and not just one appointed Manager. Jon will continue as the Turtle Creek Representative as well as representing the City of Austin. Jon informed the Manages that the 2021 audit estimated from Clifton Larson Allen will be around $7500.00. Jon opened the discussion with Att’y Deter and the Managers as to why the extra cost when the State would be auditing the repair fund thru Freeborn County Auditor Treasure office. Jon will discuss this with Pat Martinson and continue the discussion at the December 2021 meeting. At the December 2021 meeting discussion continued when Jon was informed by CliftonLarsonAllen that the TCWD 2021 audit cost estimate will be around $7500.00. The total costs for 2020 audit was $6447.00. Jon reported on his research from other Public accountants. After discussion Dave made a motion to hire Michael Peterson, Company CPA LTD from Waconia, Mn as the TCWD Certified Public accounts with their bid coming in extensively lower that the present audit costs seconded by Jon and carried. Jon will contact CliftonLarsonAllen with the notice of our Contract change. Also, at the December meeting Jeanine attended the meeting and shared the following update on Geneva Lake: All stop logs were returned to the Geneva dam in late summer and water levels increased to the normal runout by fall. All stop logs remain in place at present. Habitat and water quality conditions continued to be good this summer. Submersed vegetation was abundant in much of the lake. The exceptions were that the center part of the main lake had sparser submersed vegetation and was somewhat more turbid. Also, the drawdown was not extensive enough to achieve any extension of emergent vegetation (rushes and cattails). No formal habitat or fisheries surveys were conducted this year, so we don’t have quantitative survey information to share. At this time any plans for winter drawdown are tentative. MN Department of Natural Resources staff will be evaluating the lake for signs of developing winter kill conditions and taking other observations that will better inform a decision to lower the lake in winter. Board support for this management action is appreciated. Steve Lawler reports the canoe access project will likely be completed in 2022 and we would like to discuss rolling the funds budgeted for this project into the new year. On September 15th,2020 a motion was made and approved to commit up to 50% not to exceed $2750.00 toward this project. The Managers will discuss this further at the planning workshop in January 2022.
Steve Lawler distributed a copy of the 2021 Work Plan to review before January. Pete made a motion for the Managers to meet at 4 P.M. on January 18th,2022 before the regular meeting for the annual planning workshop seconded by Jeff and carried. Att’y Deter explained 2 options with legal services with Rinke Noonan for the year 2022. After discussion Pete made a motion to accept option one continuing with the $950.00 per month seconded by Jon and carried. Steve Lawler presented a short video of the Ron Moe Project which was the first 1W1P project. After viewing the video, the Managers suggested Steve have the video added to the web site. During the summer of 2021 Turtle Creek Watershed long time Manager Pete VanErkel joined the Board at Maple Island at the wash plant owned and operated by the VanErkel Farm. Pete shared his knowledge of the rich history of the Hollandale area, including early drainage management activities and the scope of vegetable production operations that existed here in the 1900’s. As a Water District Manager for many years Pete explained the critical role of the Watershed District in guiding water management within the Hollandale basin and associated uplands. TCWD was established in November of 1968 and encompasses 157 square miles of mostly cultivated land within Freeborn and Mower Counties, including land within the City of Austin. Turtle Creek is a tributary of the Cedar River. Geneva Lake, the only natural lake in the Cedar River Watershed and a prominent fisheries and hunting resource in South Central Minnesota is located within the head slope of the Turtle Creek Watershed. Water management has been a prominent resource concern for the TCWD. Over 78 miles of drainage management systems are maintained by the District. Water quality and flood damage reduction objectives have prompted the District to permit over 3500 acres of CREP, WRP,RIM, and EWP conservation easements since 2008. Pete’s family continues to operate one of the last remaining multi-generation vegetable operations still in existence within the basin. Vegetable fields by Maple Island are managed by the VanErkel family. Pete gladly shares his expertise in how vegetables are produced in the 21st century and the fascinating family heritage that began in Holland. Other main topics discussed at the meetings during the year included brush control, tree removal, grass strip maintenance, Geneva Lake, tiling issues and permit applications and cattle grazing on the ditch banks, as well as questions and/or concerns for project solutions and/or suggestions from area landowners for the Managers. This concludes the 2021 annual report for the Turtle Creek Watershed District. Respectfully Submitted,
Nancy K. Finley Recording Secretary