Location: The JD 14 watershed lies within Sections 15, 16, 21, 22, and 23 in Heron Lake Township.
Proposal: The goal of the JD 14 petition is to improve the main tile as well as some of the tile branches by sizing the proposed tile to provide a drainage coefficient of at least 0.50 inches per day.
Estimated cost: $1.2 million
Status: The petition was accepted and engineer appointed on April 18, 2017. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 25, 2018. Based upon the evidence, the Board found that the proposal, as stated in the petition, is feasible, and there is a necessity for it. Additionally, the Board found that the public benefit is greater than the environmental impact of the drainage project and that the outlet is adequate. The Board directed the engineer to proceed with a detailed survey and appointed viewers.
The HLWD was awarded $250,000 per four-year grant period from the EPA to protect SHL from further degradation using planning tools to determine cost-effective, multi-benefit solutions to reduce the amount of nutrients and sediment entering SHL and to reduce the impacts of flooding. This grant is phased in four four-year periods for a maximum amount of $1 million over 16 years.
The HLWD was also awarded a CWF grant for $43,000 to install 15 ASIs on CD 3, four ASIs on JD 14, and a 4.2 acre wetland restoration on JD 3.
Ron Ringquist, viewer, requested that Jackson County order an updated redetermination of benefits for JD 14 to include ISGs most recent hydraulic information. The Jackson County Board approved this request at their meeting on December 17, 2019.
The Final Engineering Report for Jackson County JD 14 was submitted on February 18. The final hearing must be held within 25-50 days of the Final Hearing Notice approval. If the Board of Managers of the HLWD approved the Final Hearing Notice at the March meeting, the soonest the hearing could be held would be April 20. Given that most landowners would be involved with spring field work, action on the hearing notice will be delayed until the April meeting, with a final hearing being scheduled in June.
On March 10, Dave Macek contacted Jan Voit regarding the possibility of a landowner meeting for JD 14. After contacting Chuck Brandel, it was determined that meeting with one of the petitioners would be the first step. They met on March 18.
Jan Voit has been in contact with legal counsels, engineers, viewers, and Jackson County regarding possible hearing dates. On March 11, Kevin Nordquist informed Jan Voit that June 2 would work for the Jackson County board to hold the hearing on the redetermination of benefits. The date was confirmed with legal counsels, engineers, and the viewers. The HLWD will hold the final hearing on the afternoon of June 2.
On April 6, Dave Macek contacted Jan Voit to determine if Branch C is included in the JD 14 improvement. She let him know that it is. A landowner contacted Dave and asked that the line be replaced. Dave informed the landowner that the line is included in the improvement project and would be replaced if the improvement project is ordered. If for some reason the improvement does not go forward, Jackson County will look into replacing the line at that time.
On April 8, Jacob Rischmiller submitted Amendment #1 to JD 14. The document was sent to DNR and BWSR.
On April 15, 2020, the Board of the HLWD met with legal counsel to discuss drainage management and finance issues. The Board of the HLWD voted unanimously to submit a petition for intervention to BWSR on behalf of the JD 14 improvement proceeding.
The viewers filed their completed Viewers’ Report of improvement benefits along with the benefits and damages statement and property owner’s report. The reports were submitted on April 17.
On April 24, 2020, Louis Smith filed a petition for intervention pursuant to Minnesota Statutes §103A.311. This petition requests the intervention of the BWSR to intervene in the JD 14 improvement proceeding for referral of two questions of water law and policy involved in the proceeding:
• Whether a county, on receipt of an assessment statement, is obligated to provide funds for the total cost of a drainage project duly ordered by the watershed district acting as drainage authority, for which the county may issue bonds; and
• Whether the watershed district is operating as the lawful drainage authority in this proceeding, and if so, whether the county may lawfully step in to take over that authority.
The Board of the HLWD approved the JD 14 hearing notice at the April meeting. The hearing notice, property owner’s reports, and viewers’ report were sent to JD 14 landowners on April 27.
The conduct and order for the hearing was drafted and sent to Louis Smith for review.
Tom Gile and Travis Germundson, BWSR contacted Jan Voit on May 14 to schedule a Skype meeting to discuss their preliminary staff assessment to the petition for intervention. Louis Smith, Emily Javens, and Jan were invited to attend. They met by conference call on May 15 to pre-plan for the call.
The conference call with Tom Gile, Travis Germundson, Emily Javens, Louis Smith, and Jan Voit was held on May 18. The draft assessment was reviewed. Next steps were for Louis Smith to present the information to the managers at the meeting on May 20 and secure a motion to withdraw the petition. Travis Germundson was to schedule a meeting with BWSR lead staff to discuss the call and BWSR correspondence signatory.
On May 20, Louis Smith reported to the Board that the staff conclusion is that BWSR should not accept the petition because there are no inconsistencies between different statutes or matters of administrative discretion. The staff had concluded in consulting with the Attorney General’s office that the drainage law, watershed district law, and the Minnesota Public Drainage Manual clearly state that the HLWD is operating as the correct drainage authority, the county cannot take that authority away, and that the county shall provide funds for a duly ordered HLWD project. Louis Smith recommended that the board vote to withdraw the petition on the condition of receiving the staff memo signed by the BWSR Executive Director indicating the memo has the approval of BWSR. The Board approved a motion authorizing withdrawal of the petition upon receipt of correspondence signed by the BWSR Executive Director.
On May 21, a follow up call was held with Travis Germundson, Emily Javens, Louis Smith, and Jan Voit. BWSR was informed that legal counsel was authorized to withdraw the petition for intervention upon receipt of signed communication from BWSR Executive Director Jaschke.
The handout and presentation for the JD 14 landowner meeting were uploaded to the HLWD website on May 19. The Skype link was included in the presentation. That information was provided to several landowners.
The landowner meeting was held on May 21. In attendance were Cheryl Kolander, John Doman, Dustin Wassenaar, Ted Bretzman, Ron Kolander, Paul Burmeister, Tim Baumann, Justin Farmer, Clyde Burmeister, Ron Ringquist, Viewer; Dave Macek, Jackson County; Chuck Brandel and Jacob Rischmiller, ISG; and Jan Voit.
Chuck Brandel and Jacob Rischmiller gave a presentation summarizing the engineer’s final report. Ron Ringquist explained the viewers’ report. Questions were asked regarding agricultural production, COVID-19, effect on taxes, bond rates, farm foreclosures, updated redetermination of benefits, improvement process, status of petition for intervention, Branch D1, and outletting property into JD 30. ISG staff will meet with landowners regarding the property that is draining into JD 30.
Correspondence from BWSR Executive Director Jaschke was received on May 22. The petition for intervention was withdrawn.
ISG submitted the PowerPoint presentation for the final hearing on May 26. Louis Smith provided comments on the Conduct and Order for the Final Hearing. The document was revised. An agenda was drafted. The hearing information was sent to managers. The PowerPoint presentation and agenda were uploaded to the website on May 27. The agenda was distributed by email on May 29.