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Watershed district looks at outlets for Boyer, LaBelle

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The Buffalo-Red River Watershed District Board of Managers will continue to pursue plans to construct an outlet for both Boyer and LaBelle lakes in western Becker County.

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A meeting was held Monday night at the Lake Park City Center to discuss progress on the project, as well as potential costs and whether or not the board should continue to pursue funding for it.

Persistent high water and erosion problems this past spring, on both lakes as well as on adjacent roads within the watershed --including U.S. Highway 10 just outside Lake Park -- prompted the board to begin investigating the possibilities for constructing an outlet that would alleviate the problem.

According to BRRWD Administrator Bruce Albright, the board began investigating the possibilities for an outlet on East LaBelle Lake last fall, when the watershed district was approached by a group of landowners who lived on the lake.

Houston Engineering was brought in to do an outlet study, which was completed this spring. Then in June, the board was approached by both Becker County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation about the possibility of constructing an outlet for Boyer Lake as well.

Because Boyer actually outlets into the same area as LaBelle, the board opted to combine both lakes into a single outlet project.

"Boyer Lake drains into LaBelle -- we can't have an outlet for Boyer until we have an outlet for LaBelle," Albright explained at the meeting.

Though the high water problems have persisted for many years now, there is no real way of knowing how long this "wet cycle" will continue, Albright said. But if the high water problems do persist next spring and summer, there could be serious consequences.

"The cup is full -- the groundwater is full, the slough is full, the lakes are full," he added.

Erik Jones, the engineer who has been working on the project, said Houston Engineering looked at three possible outlets for LaBelle Lake, and decided that the strongest option was to construct an outlet on the southeast bay of the lake.

A preliminary cost estimate that was presented by Jones at the meeting showed that it would cost approximately $288,000, including about $148,000 for the actual construction, and another $140,000 for right-of-way acquisition, engineering, wetland mitigation, beaver control and rodent guard structures, riprap, tree and bush removal and other related expenses.

However, it was also discussed at the meeting that there may need to be some sort of additional outlet constructed to drain Boyer into LaBelle Lake.

Jones said they would investigate that possibility as well.

The consensus from those present at the meeting, including township officials and landowners affected by the high water problems, as well as a handful of MnDOT, DNR and Becker County officials, was that they would like to see a project "ready to go" by next spring.

Albright said there were three potential funding sources: The state could fund up to 50 percent of the cost through its flood management reduction program, but the grant pool for this year has already been used up.

The BRRWD has typically funded about 25 percent of the cost, with the remaining 25 percent coming from the benefited parties -- one of which, in this case, would be Highway 10, Albright said.

At the end of Tuesday's discussion, Albright noted that the board would hold another informational meeting sometime after the new year to discuss progress on the project.

The proposed plans for the outlet will be available for viewing at the BRRWD Web site, www.brrwd.org, sometime in the next couple of weeks, he added.

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Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 14 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 844-1454
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