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Prairie View repairs hoped to be completed this fall

WORTHINGTON -- Repairs to the Prairie View water filtration system are anticipated to be addressed this month, but with current high water levels and a chance for rain in the forecast nearly every day in the next week, time will tell.

WORTHINGTON - Repairs to the Prairie View water filtration system are anticipated to be addressed this month, but with current high water levels and a chance for rain in the forecast nearly every day in the next week, time will tell.

Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District Manager Les Johnson said a crew from Duininck Inc. intends to be at the site the week of Oct. 15.

The repairs needed to the water filtration and sediment reduction project are the result of early summer flooding that sent excessive amounts of water through the system. The cost to make the fixes was estimated by Duininck at $114,500, and includes site restoration of the spillway and filter areas, reinstallation of the Flexamat, removal of the existing sand used for filtering and replacement with new sand, and other work.

Wenck Associates, the engineering firm that designed the Flexamat system for the watershed district, will be responsible for paying $92,580 of the cost, with the watershed’s share estimated at nearly $22,000.

During the district’s Tuesday meeting, Administrator Dan Livdahl also reported that permit requests for the Ocheda dam renovation were submitted to both the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers. The permits are needed by February in order for the district to seek bids for the project. The work will include installation of a fish barrier on the dam, leading up to a planned fall 2019 drawdown of Lake Ocheda.

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Also related to the Ocheda dam, the board approved a joint powers agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources regarding future lake management.

“The DNR will continue to own the dam, and we’ll allow them to go in and inspect the dam,” Livdahl said. “We may help with the management, but the DNR is responsible for managing lake levels.”

Lake Okabena carp levels Discussion continued Tuesday on carp levels in Lake Okabena. The consensus among board members is that they are interested in doing something, but with the Lake Ocheda project planned in 2019, no funds are available.

Livdahl said he will meet with the Worthington City Council during an Oct. 17 work session to present the data from a carp population study conducted by Wenck Associates this summer.

“If we’re going to be putting significant money into it (radio-tagging and tracking carp), we’re going to need to wait at least one more year,” he said. That will be the message he takes to the council.

Other entities, however, could combine efforts to fund a project that would ultimately lead to removal of carp from the lake, he noted.

Livdahl said the county has saved an estimated $100,000 in state money targeted for addressing invasive species - some of which could be used for Lake Okabena, although the district hoped some of the money would help fund the Lake Ocheda dam project. He said the E.O. Olson Trust may also have money available.

Manager Casey Ingenthron asked if it would be worthwhile to do the carp tagging.

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“The minimum would be tagging to see where they go and then locate the fish to do the removals,” replied Livdahl. “They could tag them early spring, see where they go and the following winter you could tell where the fish are from the tags and sein them out.”

In other action, the board:

  • Approved more than $27,000 in filter strip incentive payments to landowners within the watershed district.
  • Approved a stormwater pollution prevention plan for Henning Construction, Adrian, during construction of the Westmor Lakeside Travel Center at the intersection of Nobles County 57 and Minnesota 60, on Worthington’s south side.
  • Approved permits to the following for erosion and sediment control: American Lutheran Church, 915 Winifred St., during building demolition and construction of a building addition; to Nienkerk Construction, Adrian, during replacement of underground tanks at Interstate Cenex, 1710 Humiston Ave., Worthington; and to DK Buildings LLC, Worthington, during construction of a new home at 1771 Donavon Drive, Worthington.
  • Received an update on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster declaration for the area. FEMA representatives will be in Nobles County Oct. 19 to meet with those who reported damage from summer flooding. Livdahl plans to present the cost estimates for the repairs at Prairie View, as well as the $12,000 estimate to repair riprap around the pool below the Lake Bella dam.
  • Learned the district’s St. John’s property will be seeded into a honey bee mix for a pollinator project spearheaded by the University of Minnesota.
  • Thanked Johnson for his 30 years of service on the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District’s board of managers. Johnson will now be appointed to the OOWD’s Advisory Board.
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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