The study will be conducted by Houston Engineering, a Fargo, North Dakota-based firm with offices in Minnesota and South Dakota that specializes in water resources including drainage and surface water modeling.
“They’d look at the site and propose what might work there, based on best science, using some of the work we’ve already done,” OOWD Administrator Dan Livdahl explained during the board of managers meeting. The $53,000 cost would include the phase one feasibility study at $43,000, as well as $10,000 for communication between the watershed district and engineers hired by the school district to ensure a project that would fit with the school district’s plans.
Livdahl said while the study is expensive, it’s the step the watershed district needs to take if it wants to try to qualify for grant funding next summer.
“Unless you’re prepared, you’re not going to get a grant,” Livdahl said, reminding managers that the city of Worthington spent about $65,000 on studies before it was able to get a grant for water quality improvements on the Prairie View property.
“I see this as one of the critical projects for us,” said Manager Jay Milbrandt. “This seems like the last big opportunity — especially at the top of the watershed.”
Milbrandt said he believes this summer’s improved water quality in Lake Okabena was a direct result of the work done on the Prairie View property.
Board President Rolf Mahlberg also spoke in favor of working with the school district to implement water quality projects on the school’s property.
“I think that parcel is something we really need to have a focus on,” Mahlberg said. “You can see that’s a really viable, important piece in the watershed as water makes its trek into the lake.”
Livdahl said it’s important for the watershed district to have basic information before approaching the ISD 518 Board of Education.
“How much would it cost and what would it look like — that’s really what we’re asking for,” he said. “The school district isn’t going to commit until they know what they’re committing to, and we’re not going to commit until we know we can afford to do it.”
It’s anticipated the feasibility study will begin in early 2021.
In other business, the board:
Completed a performance evaluation of Livdahl as the watershed’s administrator. Following the review, a 3% salary increase was approved, for a 2021 salary of $62,580. In addition, health insurance and a $75 per month contribution to Livdahl’s health savings account was approved.