Heron Lake Watershed District (HLWD)
January 12, 2017
1. Call to Order
Bruce Leinen called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m.
Managers present: Harvey Kruger, Bruce Leinen, Gary Ewert, and Wayne Rasche
Manager absent: Jim Buschena
Staff: Catherine Wegehaupt and Jan Voit
Others present: Justin Ahlers, Nobles County; Chris Bauer, Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD); Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe; John Shea, Nobles SWCD; Dave Thiner, Murray County; Jim Eigenberg, Jackson County; Jerry Christopherson, and Allen Jensen
2. Quarterly Meeting with Commissioners
Dave Thiner read the HLWD mission statement. He asked why the HLWD would want to undertake buffer enforcement outside the watershed district boundary. He understood the desire to have enforcement done locally, rather than by a state agency. He was informed that the HLWD would consider buffer enforcement within the watershed, but not outside the watershed boundary.
Dave Thiner stated that open ditches are full of weeds and grass, which should be good for holding back water. He asked the reasoning behind the watershed district getting involved with open ditches and drainage systems rather than promoting retention. More and more systems are being improved, which must be counterproductive to the HLWD mission.
Bruce Leinen said that landowners request improved ditch systems so their drainage can work better. The HLWD does make sure that the statutory process is followed and ensures that structures are implemented for water quality. Wayne Rasche stated that the ditch systems do not cost the HLWD money. The ditch system pays for staff time. Dave Thiner asked if the HLWD had enough staff to handle the number of systems that would be improved or if it was overwhelming for staff. Murray County cannot keep up with redeterminations. He did not know if the HLWD could handle all of this or if it really was part of their mission.
Bruce Leinen stated that improvement projects done within the HLWD are our responsibility. Gary Ewert explained that according to state statute the HLWD is the drainage authority for improvement projects and new ditch construction within its boundary. Once petitions are filed, the whole process is done through the HLWD according to statute. It is not counterproductive to the HLWD’s mission. The HLWD tries to assist landowners in optimum production of crops and part of that is drainage improvement. Weeds and grass in ditches is a good thing. The primary purpose of improvement projects is not just to clean ditches. The open ditches are reshaped and tile systems are upgraded to meet Natural Resources Conservation Service capacity recommendations. Ditches built in the 1920s and 1930s were not constructed to provide the capacity needed today. Systems are overloaded and cannot provide the drainage needed. They are redesigned to meet a half inch drainage coefficient.
Dave Thiner directed attention back to his main question – buffer enforcement. He asked if enforcement is education or fining people. He asked what the HLWD’s intention would be regarding enforcement and how it would be funded. Gary Ewert explained that there are different responsibilities for different agencies as part of the buffer bill. Counties and watershed districts can choose whether or not to participate in enforcement. It is his opinion that it would be better for a local agency – county or watershed district – to be involved instead of a state agency that is removed geographically from the issues. Enforcement would be done by the agency that chooses to work with noncompliance issues. The technical agency determines if a property is in compliance and how best to ensure compliance if it is not.
Dave Thiner believes that enforcement is forcing someone to comply. He explained a situation in Murray County where a new system with open ditch was constructed less than 15 years ago. The gentleman involved was paid for the required buffers. The soil is unstable and keeps widening. The gentleman no longer has the required 16.5 foot buffer. He asked how something like this would be tackled. Gary Ewert said that the technical agency needs to determine what needs to be done to comply, based on a site visit.
Bruce Leinen asked the other commissioners if they had any questions or comments. Neither Justin Ahlers nor Jim Eigenberg had any questions or comments.
3. Treasurer’s Report
Jan Voit presented the treasurer’s report and bills payable. Gary Ewert made a motion to approve the treasurer’s report and pay the bills. Harvey Kruger seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
Wayne Rasche made a motion to approve the minutes of the December 20, 2016 regular meeting. Gary Ewert seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
5. Watershed Management Plan (WMP) Update
Jan Voit explained that the managers’ number one priority for the Survey and Data Acquisition Fund was to update the WMP. She requested authorization to work with Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) to update the WMP. Harvey Kruger made a motion to authorize HEI to update the WMP. Gary Ewert seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
6. Annual Information
Bruce Leinen made a motion to approve the following annual information:
•Tentative schedule for regular meetings: third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. September through April and 8:00 p.m. May through August. The location shall be the HLWD office at 1003 3rd Avenue, Heron Lake. (Changes to the monthly meeting date will be made if scheduling conflicts arise.)
•Manager compensations shall remain $75 per day limit, $75 per regular meeting, special meeting, and committee meeting; $12 per hour basis, and mileage to match the Internal Revenue Service allowable rate.
•Official newspaper shall be Tri County News, 931 2nd Avenue, Heron Lake.
•Data practices officer shall be Jan Voit, HLWD Administrator.
•Personnel committee members shall be Jim Buschena and Bruce Leinen.
•Legal counsel shall be Michael Tow, Tow Law Firm, Ltd.
•Annual audit shall be conducted by Drealan, Kvilhaug, Hoefker & Co. P.A.
•Depositories shall remain Community First, Lakefield; First State Bank, Okabena; First National Bank, Fulda; Security State Bank, Heron Lake; Lakefield Federal Savings and Loan, Lakefield; United Prairie Bank, Wilmont; First National Bank, Brewster; and Fulda Area Credit Union, Fulda.
•HLWD 2017 Annual Work Plan dated January 12, 2017.
Wayne Rasche seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
7. Order Appointing Advisory Committee Members
Wayne Rasche made a motion to approve the following order:
WHEREAS, Minnesota Statute, Section 103D.331 requires that the managers must annually appoint an advisory committee to advise and assist the managers on all matters affecting the interests of the watershed district and make recommendations to the managers on all contemplated projects and improvements in the watershed district; and,
WHEREAS, the Board of Managers, on January 26, 2016 determined by voice vote that the following named individuals should be appointed as members of the Advisory Committee for the HLWD.
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
The following named individuals shall be, and hereby are, appointed as members of the Advisory Committee for the HLWD. Said appointment to be effective from January 1st to December 31st of the year in which this order is dated.
Paul Pietz PO Box 865, Lakefield, MN 56150
Matt Widboom 32126 230th Street, Worthington, MN 56187
Larry Janssen 1600 S. Shore Drive, Worthington, MN 56187
Jim Eigenberg 1121 4th Avenue, Heron Lake, MN 56137
Jerry Ackermann 39750 820th Street, Lakefield, MN 56150
Allen Jensen 89133 380th Avenue, Heron Lake, MN 56137
Naomi Hill 36327 210th Street, Brewster, MN 56119
Kevin Stevens 700 Plum Avenue, Windom, MN 56101
Andy Geiger 603 South Highway 86, Lakefield, MN 56150
Dave Thiner PO Box 401, Fulda, MN 56131
Jerry Christopherson 211 16th Street, Heron Lake, MN 56137
Wayne Smith Box 187, Worthington, MN 56187
Jean Christoffels PO Box 57, Slayton, MN 56172
John Shea 1567 McMillan Street #3, Worthington, MN 56187
Chris Bauer 603 South Highway 86, Lakefield, MN 56150
Dave Hussong 84926 380th Avenue, Okabena, MN 56161
Shelly Lewis 2740 22nd Street, Slayton, MN 56172
Mona Henkels 330 235th Street, Fulda, MN 56131
Kay Gross 339 9th Street, Windom, MN 56101
Clark Lingbeek 26992 570th Avenue, Comfrey, MN 56019
Julie Lopez 32557 210th Street, Worthington, MN 56187
Doug Goodrich 1400 E. Lyon Street, Marshall, MN 56258
Katherine Pekarek-Scott 1601 East Highway 12, Ste. 1, Willmar, MN 56201
Randy Markl 175 County Road 26, Windom, MN 56101
Brian Nyborg 175 County Road 26, Windom, MN 56101
The duly elected secretary of the Advisory Committee for the Heron Lake Watershed District shall file the committee’s report and recommendations with the managers as required by Minnesota Statute, Section 103D.331.
Gary Ewert seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
8. HLWD Policies Handbook
Revisions were made to the policies handbook as directed by the HLWD President. The draft information was distributed to managers for review before the January meeting. Harvey Kruger made a motion to approve the HLWD Policies Handbook. Wayne Rasche seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
9. HLWD Personnel Policy
Revisions were made to the policies handbook as directed by the HLWD President. The draft information was distributed to managers for review before the January meeting. Harvey Kruger made a motion to approve the HLWD Personnel Policy. Gary Ewert seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
10. Manager and Staff Orientation
Jan Voit explained the Manager and Staff Orientation document. Wayne Rasche made a motion to approve the Manager and Staff Orientation document. Harvey Kruger seconded this. Motion carried unanimously.
Jan Voit reported on annual reports, Major Watershed Project, Soil Sample Results Meeting, certificates of deposit, Jackson County Ditch (CD) 3, annual information, cover crop presentation, financial information, website, Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts Annual Meeting observations, and the line of credit. The Property Owners’ Report for Jackson CD was distributed. Discussion was held regarding the informational meeting and final hearing.
Catherine Wegehaupt provided an update on water quality data analysis, Soil Sample Results Meeting, HLWD Cover Crop Research Plots, and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant. She explained that the difference for the Haney Soil Test from year to year could be the result of extra moisture in the soil. Excess moisture could cause less microbe activity in the soil.
Discussion was held regarding the HLWD Cover Crop Research Plots. It is the intent to secure one landowner in each county. The Cover Crop Steering Committee has been asked to recommend potential cooperators.
Discussion was held regarding the bill for the Seward 29 site for rock placement. The invoice submitted in December was incorrect. The contractor was asked to submit a revised invoice. That invoice has not been received. The Southwest Prairie Technical Service Area (SWPTSA) has completed the survey. They are working on the design. Discussion was held regarding whether the structure would be repaired or rebuilt. At present, no cost estimate has been provided. The structure has been in place for over 40 years.
The meeting adjourned at 9:38 a.m.