County approves final water plan with state tweaks

Staff Writer

Morrison County’s five-year water plan received unanimous final approval from the Board of Commissioners, after the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR) added language on climate change.

Morrison County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) manager Helen McLennan, whose department put the plan together for Morrison County, said BWSR added in minor language about climate change.

Commissioner Mike LeMieur asked if McLennan had any concerns about the added language.

McLennan said the language was vague and reflected BWSR’s stance that climate change is responsible for having intermittent, larger rainfalls rather than steady small ones.

Adding the language allows the county to get funding should a large rainfall cause erosion or other damage, McLennan said.

“It’s referenced in the plan so therefore we can seek additional funding for that,” McLennan said.

After the resolution was approved, a clock began ticking for municipalities in the county that may want a different plan.

Those cities have 90 days from when the resolution was signed to come up with their own plans and submit them to the county, McLennan said.

After that, the county has 120 days to approve or disapprove a city’s proposed plan.

“For many years that process was skipped by Morrison County. We did it with the last one and all of the municipalities came on board,” McLennan said.

Drafting a local water plan is a great deal of work, McLennan said. Drafting the current plan took almost two years, in addition to the other work the agency does.

Having SWCD handle the plan came after state funding for it decreased, McLennan said.

“You always hired a private consultant and they took that year – year-and-a-half as well, and charged you $30,000 to $40,000,” McLennan said. “When it was delegated to us, that’s also about the time the funding lapsed.”

This meant that if the county wanted to implement anything in the plan, such as the annual Water Festival for area students, there were no funds to do so, McLennan said.

An upcoming issue is that the state is putting a lot of money toward is the idea of “One Watershed, One Plan,” McLennan said.

This means the state wants an individual plan for every watershed in a county, five for Morrison County, she said.

“Are you asking us to sit down with five more teams and have to do five more plans that won’t say anything more than what this one does?” McLennan said she asked the state.

McLennan has appealed to BWSR that Morrison County deserves some of that state funding since the plan addresses each watershed, and was approved by BWSR, she said.

Having the plan done by SWCD is beneficial to the county and SWCD itself as it allows both groups to address the areas they are working on every day in the plan. McLennan said it also helps because she knows the plan better than the plans done by consultants, and isn’t routinely looking through it to see what SWCD said it would do.

Board of Commissioners Briefs

In other business Monday, the Little Falls City Council:

  • Approved an on-sale liquor license for the Genola Athletic Club;
  • Approved an interim use permit for Randy and Joni Hanson to establish an event venue barn in Cushing;
  • Approved a permit for Joseph and Susan Houdek/Reeds LLC to expand their ATV salvage yard in Green Prairie Township;
  • Approved an interim use permit and a conditional use permit for Rice Creek Family Farm to expand its lodge and establish a campground on the property;
  • Approved submitting an amended budget for the Corrections Department to the State Department of Corrections to reflect additional state funding;
  • Approved an agreement with the Minnesota Seventh Judicial District for Drug Court. Morrison County provides a full-time probation agent, a part-time surveillance agent, supervisory support staff and some equipment for Drug Court;
  • Approved a permit for Roll With It to hold a raffle Oct. 3, at the Rice Creek Hunting Preserve;
  • Approved a permit for Hillman Area Whitetail Management Association to hold a raffle, Dec. 2, at the Brother’s Porky Pine Bar and Grill;
  • Approved a permit for Hillman Area Legion Post 602 to hold lawful gambling activities at The Mann Cave and Route 26 Bar and Grill;
  • Awarded contracts for the county’s portion of the Royalton Safe Routes to Kuechle Underground, for utility and sidewalk work, and Tri-City Paving for paving the area, in amounts of $415,001.50 and $213,531.55, respectively;
  • Awarded a contract to Kowalczyk Gravel for $51,085.21 to provide calcium chloride and aggregate surfacing for Peavey Lake Road in Richardson Township;
  • Awarded a contract to build the new historic courthouse parking lot to Kimman Dirt Diggers for $86,671.21;
  • Approved certificates of project completion for calcium chloride application by Tri-City Paving, sign installation by ID Sign Solutions, and ground in pavement markings by Traffic Marking Service on County Road 274 and County State Aid Highways 5, 16, 17, 22, 26, 28, 35 and 48;
  • Approved purchasing a mobile command trailer for the Morrison County Sheriff’s Department. The trailer is expected to cost approximately $200,000, with the cost split between the National Joint Powers Alliance and Morrison County; and
  • Approved a contract with the Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS) for the dispatchers’ labor contracts. These contracts are in effect through 2019 and feature a 3 percent cost of living adjustment in 2019, along with market adjustments throughout the three-year period, depending on how long the employee has been with the county.

The next meeting of the Morrison County Board of Commissioners is Tuesday, at 8:30 a.m. in the Board Room at the Morrison County Government Center.