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Nobles County approval paves way for Prairie View watershed work

The former Prairie View Golf Links property is pictured Tuesday. (Tim Middagh / Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday gave final approval to the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District to expand ponds and add a water filtering system on the former Prairie View Golf Links property, but not without first seeking assurances a farmer’s tile lines will be maintained if problems arise.

OOWD Administrator Dan Livdahl said an operation and maintenance agreement is currently being written with the city of Worthington that spells out the watershed district’s responsibility for maintenance of the overall project for a minimum of 30 years. He said the agreement includes maintenance of tile outlets. If issues arise, the work would be funded through the watershed’s annual levy.

Responding to a question from Commissioner Justin Ahlers about the impact on the farmer’s tile, Livdahl said there is a 10- to 14-foot drop between the Mike and Steve Bousema property and the new level of the ponds.

“Assuming the tile is in good shape, (water) will continue to flow,” he added.

Commissioner Matt Widboom asked about the difference between the Prairie View project and the existing water quality improvements already happening to the north, on what the watershed district calls its W-9 project. Livdahl said that project, completed in 2002 on land owned by Galen Gordon, removes large particles of sediment and nutrients from water coming from the north, whereas the Prairie View project will further remove smaller particles from that water, as well as filter water that runs off from land to the west.

“The pond on the Gordon property does a good job of removing silt, but it doesn’t do any of the filtering — that’s what the sand filtering on these ponds will do,” he added.

Livdahl said the city is working on a plan to give the watershed district a perpetual easement on the Prairie View property, which will allow the district to perform routine maintenance and clean-out of the sand filter. Enough land is included to store dredged material from the ponds and the filter.

The watershed district’s plans for Prairie View are in response to nutrient pollution carried by Whiskey Ditch into Lake Okabena.

“We have done quite a bit of research on the Lake Okabena watershed in the last six years, including a study by Wenck Associates,” Livdahl said. The ponds on the Prairie View course were already helping to remove some of the nutrients from water before it reaches the lake, so when the city decided to close the course, the watershed district sought to not only keep the ponds in place, but to further improve the filtering process before water reaches the lake.

The project, which will be under construction this summer, includes widening the three existing ponds on the site and adding an iron sand filter bench. Once completed, the site will help remove an estimated 945 pounds of phosphorus from water before it reaches Lake Okabena each year, with another 123,000 pounds of total suspended solids filtered out. The phosphorus removed is about one-third of the total amount that needs to be removed per year to bring Lake Okabena off the state’s impaired waters list.

A $428,000 grant awarded by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources is helping to fund the project.

Following Livdahl’s comments, the board unanimously approved the conditional use permit needed for the project to begin.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved conditional use permits for Lismore Telephone Co. to construct three separate utility huts on properties in Bigelow, Worthington and Elk townships.
  • Approved the transfer of $150,000 from the county’s environmental fund to the Buffalo Ridge Regional Rail Authority account. These funds will be used to pay Nobles County’s share in the removal and disposal of railroad ties along the Minnesota Southern Railway. The BRRRA is a joint powers with Rock County, with both counties covering 50 percent of the costs.
  • Authorized posting a request for proposals for the landscape and ADA accessibility plans for the 10th Street entrance of the Nobles County Government Center in Worthington. The project is slated to begin after the International Festival in mid-July and be completed by the King Turkey Day celebration in mid-September.
  • Accepted a $1,000 mini grant from the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation to supplement the existing I Can Prevent Diabetes program offered through the county’s SNAP-Ed and Community Wellness Partners program. The funds will be used to reimburse the local YMCA for a personal trainer who is available to class participants on a weekly basis at the facility.
  • Approved temporary on-sale liquor licenses for the Lao Buddhist Temple to sell 3.2 beer during events at the temple, 24268 Oliver Ave., Worthington, on June 3, July 8 and Aug. 12.
  • Appointed Brad Meester, Bigelow, to a three-year unexpired term on the Nobles County Extension Committee and Marlene Greve to a three-year term on the Nobles County Library Board.
  • Reappointed Jerry Lonneman, Rodney Spronk and Joe Weber to four-year terms on the Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water Board.
Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at farmbleat.areavoices.com.

(507) 376-7330
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