OOWD’s Prairie View project has setback

WORTHINGTON -- The iron sand filter constructed this fall on the former Prairie View Golf Links property isn't working properly and it's not clear who is to blame -- the engineers who ordered the materials or the contractor who built it to specif...

The iron sand filter constructed this fall on the former Prairie View Golf Links property isn’t working properly. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - The iron sand filter constructed this fall on the former Prairie View Golf Links property isn’t working properly and it’s not clear who is to blame - the engineers who ordered the materials or the contractor who built it to specifications.

During a meeting of the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District’s board of managers Tuesday, OOWD Administrator Dan Livdahl said water isn’t getting through the layer of sand to reach the pipes that will carry it downstream.

“There was some sediment that came off both of the banks of the pond during the big rainstorm,” Livdahl said. “Part of the filter has some sediment on it and isn’t working as well.”

He said it also appears the sand was packed and became impervious instead of filtering water. The filter was constructed to remove nutrients and sediment from water before it reaches Lake Okabena.

“The sand is the majority of the problem, in my opinion,” Livdahl said. “Wenck … said they’ve used this design and materials in other places and it worked fine.”


The contractor, Duininck Inc., will cut a 20-foot-long trench through the sand filter, down to the rock layer, to get water flowing through the system, as Livdahl said water continues to come in through tile systems.

“They’ll have to remove the wrong materials and install the right materials,” Livdahl added. Weather will dictate if it gets done yet this fall or is pushed into next spring.

Meanwhile, Duininck Inc. submitted a pay request for $337,807.83 for dirt work it completed, leading managers to discuss whether they should pay the bill despite not having a working iron sand filter.

Livdahl said the bill does not include the cost of seeding and the filter, and therefore should be paid.

“We hired the work done to get a working filter,” said Manager Jay Milbrandt. “Either they resolve who is responsible or we have a working filter.”

“We are buying a working project; I expect a working project,” added Board Chairman Les Johnson.

Livdahl assured the board the filter will become operable, leading managers to approve the payment.

A potential land swap for the Prairie View property was also discussed Tuesday. Milbrandt said he and Livdahl met with City Administrator Steve Robinson and Public Works Director Todd Wietzema regarding ownership of the Prairie View parcel, minus the former clubhouse, in exchange for the OOWD’s St. John’s parcel along Minnesota 60, west of Nobles Street.


Plans are still in the works for the Boy Scouts to take over the clubhouse on the property. Milbrandt said if the swap goes through, plans are to maintain walking and cross-country trails on the property that will be open to public use. Land will also be seeded to prairie grasses and forbs.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said OOWD Advisory Board Member Keith Schroeder. “You get people behind the Scouts and they’ll bring people in.”

Milbrandt said the Scouts may even have some of their members do Eagle Scout projects on the site.

“I think it’s a cool addition for the community as a whole,” added Manager Rolf Mahlberg. “It’s a neat idea.”

In other action, managers:

  • Discussed the recent carp survey conducted on Lake Okabena. Livdahl spoke with DNR Fisheries Supervisor Ryan Doorenbos regarding the modeling used by Wenck Associates in the study. Just nine carp were counted during an electrofishing survey in October, but modeling used by Wenck estimates approximately 14,000 carp in the lake.

The DNR will conduct a gill/trap netting survey on the lake next year, so Livdahl suggested the board wait until next spring to discuss any potential actions the watershed district may want to address.
Actions could include having Wenck do a larger assessment that would also include Sunset Bay; collecting water samples in both the lake and the bay to monitor clarity (in addition to carp, buffalo fish and freshwater drum also stir up bottom sediment); or radio tagging carp to see where they congregate in the lake.

  • Denied a motion on a 3-1 vote to refund the second half rental payment to Terry Neugebauer, who farmed the St. John’s property this year. Mahlberg, in presenting the motion, said the soil structure is not yet conducive for row crop production and the farmer harvested a low-yielding soybean crop. Milbrandt, who along with managers Les Johnson and Casey Ingenthron, voted against the refund, suggested giving the farmer a good deal to farm the land in 2018 if the district still owns the property.
  • Approved vacating a 1955 easement on the Bedford Industries property.
  • Approved erosion and sediment control permits for Johnson Builders & Realtors during the construction of a retail facility at the intersection of Ray Drive and North Humiston Avenue; and for Minnesota West Community and Technical College during the construction of The Villas, a housing project.
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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