Osakis Voices: Cost of ponds keeps rising
Well, I believe we have had an old-fashioned winter this year. Lots of cold and snow and school closings. Last Wednesday was the first day of spring and I see some of our birds are coming back, so spring is close.
What has been happening in Todd County? In February, Commissioner Becker, our county coordinator and I went down to St. Paul to visit with our legislators Rep. Poston, Rep. Kresha and Sen. Gazelka. We talked about our needs in Todd County, which include bonding for a new solid waste facility near Browerville, to changing the state statue on buggy lighting, to help finding a business to buy the RR Donnelly/Banta/Harts Press facility in Long Prairie.
I also found our unemployment rate in Todd County for February was 5.1 percent. The new governor addressed us at our legislator conference. A few of us also met on Feb. 21 with Congressman Collin Peterson. We had a great conversation on the farm bill and our concerns on the number of dairy farmers we are losing in Todd County because of the price of milk. We also shared our concerns about the price of corn and soybeans and how those three items are affecting our main streets within our county.
We also asked how he felt about no net gain and he told us he is supportive of Todd County's resolution. I believe both meetings went well and both our state and federal elected officials know our concerns and how they can help Todd County.
At our March 19 board meeting, we did pass a resolution to make an additional payment of $1,571,006 for the South County Cash Call, with the funds coming out of Fund 11 — $961,908 and Fund 21 — $609,098. This was not budgeted for 2019. The board had no choice but to pass this. The next resolution was the withdrawal from South County Health Alliance Joint Powers Agreement. This resolution passed with a 5-0 vote.
In other news, the commissioners will attend the annual Todd County township meeting on April 11. The spring Todd County road meeting will be April 3 at 9 a.m. at the northern shop in Moran Township.
I have been getting calls and people asking what is going on with the JD2 sediment ponds north of the lake. Well, I can tell you that all the equipment was pulled out. The road restrictions went into effect on Todd County 85 and the road leading into the sediment ponds is a mud hole. There are two large piles of black dirt and smaller piles alongside of the sediment pond that you can see plainly from Todd County Road 10 by Olson's looking west. At the March 19 meeting, the Sauk Watershed Board was asked to approve a payment of $392,000 for the work that has been done. Remember, this is just for the work the contactor has done to date. There was also talk of an additional expense for dewatering the ponds. Have yet to see a number on that!
They were hauling and spreading phosphorous-contaminated soil on a field south of Ditch Drive in Douglas County. A USGS study showed that phosphorus can also migrate with groundwater flows. Since groundwater often discharges into surface water, such as through streambanks into rivers, there is a concern about phosphorus concentrations in groundwater affecting the water quality of surface water. Remember that phosphorus is an essential element for plant life, but when there is too much of it in water, it can speed up eutrophication (a reduction in dissolved oxygen in water bodies caused by an increase of mineral and organic nutrients) of rivers and lakes.
The sediment ponds were constructed in 2003. I believe in clean water for Lake Osakis but since 2003, the Sauk River Watershed has spent over $1 million on this project. This money is coming from Osakis taxpayers and the first and second tier developments around Lake Osakis in both Douglas and Todd County. I have yet to see the new assessment numbers and for how many years it will be for, but it looks like forever.
If you have questions on the sediment ponds, please feel free to Contact the appointed Sauk River managers: Todd County — Gary Barber, Osakis, 320 859-7609; Tyler Carlson, Sauk Centre, 320-249-1841; and Douglas County — Emily Wolf, 320-766-2484. I am sure they can and will answer your questions.
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Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.