By Randy Neumann, Todd County Commissioner
Well, I can say that our state representatives see what is going on with the Sauk River Watershed after holding and attending meetings. Yet with all the people who have attended these meetings and voiced their opposition on a new building, Sauk River managers voted 7 to 2 to move forward with the new $1.9 million building. You’ve got to ask what the hell were they thinking, with that many people opposed to it. No thoughts were given to senior citizens who are limited on Social Security and young families raising kids or most of us trying to get by.
I have always said that Lake Osakis is the Sauk River Watershed’s cash cow. There are many of us that grew up on and by Lake Osakis. Many of us are third and fourth generation residents. Many of us remember when there were over 25 resorts on the lake and how busy Main Street was. Lake Osakis was a top 10 lake in Minnesota. I believe the reason many of us live here is because of the beauty of the area, and yes, the lake. For the past 112 years, JD2/Curtis Creek has entered into Millers Bay. I believe since 1908, when JD2 was built. I have done countless hours of researching JD2 and Lake Osakis and have documents from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. These documents show that in 1939 the Outlet Dam 4 bay type C was completed by WPA with a 20-foot spillway length with removable planks. It was modified on May 5, 1961 to a spillway length of 23 feet still with removable planks and run out elevation of 1,321.5 and a twin barrel concrete box culvert each opening 10 feet by 6 feet.
A document, dated Aug. 21, 1986 showed that the lowest water level was 1,315.9 in 1935 and the highest 1,324.5 in 1972. The dam was again changed in 1996 when they removed the old 10-foot-by-6-foot box culverts, with two lines of 12-foot-by-7-foot box culverts and the 23-foot fixed crest at an elevation of 1,321.52. On July 7, 2003 Lake Osakis’ water level hit 1,325.78. The sea level of Lake Osakis was 1,324.05 in May of 1906. They checked it again in June 1923 and it was 1,320.76. My point is that a lot of things have changed in the last 112 years. JD 2 was never intended to keep the water elevation up in Lake Osakis and that is why it runs through the lake all the way to Highway 27. The diversion ditch that was dug between the Long Prairie River and Lake Osakis in the late 1930s was intended to raise the elevation of Lake Osakis. This really upset the city of Sauk Centre in May of 1944. It started at the expense of the City of Sauk Centre; we are maintaining a dam which holds Sauk Lake at its proper level but, it is impossible for us to do so when waters are diverted from the Long Prairie watershed. Of course, this was not taken into consideration when our dam was constructed. The diversion ditch is no longer flowing between the Long Prairie River and Lake Osakis. Lake Osakis has 11 inlets and one outlet and yes, things have changed in 112 years.
Todd County Ditch 33 was built in 1916 from Grutches Grove area to Lake Osakis. Todd County Ditch 43 was built in 1918 from Maple Lake to Lake Osakis (Boss Creek.) So ask yourself, why did the Sauk River Managers pay $1.5 million for land to restore Crooked Lake when all the landowners were not on board? What are the results for water quality to Lake Osakis with this $1.5 million? What is the cost to pay other landowners within Crooked Lake? Were offers made, how much per acre was offered where and when will the dam be installed in JD2? How far west of Douglas County 3?
If I was a Sauk River Watershed manager I would be working on getting at least three soil core samples to be at least 25 feet deep done in the lake where JD2 enters it. I am sure they could find someone at the University of Minnesota to read the samples for them. They need to be very transparent about the samples. This would give us a good picture of the past 112 years of how much sediment is entering Lake Osakis.
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Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.