Consternation follows ditch repair work
An informational meeting regarding Becker County Ditch 19 will be held in Callaway on Thursday, April 27. Questions have surfaced in recent weeks regarding the drainage system and the benefits area, as well as whether improvements last year led t...
An informational meeting regarding Becker County Ditch 19 will be held in Callaway on Thursday, April 27.
Questions have surfaced in recent weeks regarding the drainage system and the benefits area, as well as whether improvements last year led to a fish kill on Rock Lake.
The Buffalo-Red River Watershed District is hosting the meeting. Representatives from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Becker County Highway Department and Holmesville Township have been invited to address various circumstances, according to watershed district administrator Bruce Albright.
The ditch was constructed in the 1920s. It begins at Tamarac Lake within the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge and winds through Mum, Rock and Rice lakes before ending in Buffalo Lake.
The ditch has been under the watershed's jurisdiction since 1997. Last summer, the district was contacted by property owners who were concerned about high water problems on several lakes.
"We identified that the outlet from Rice to Buffalo -- after visiting with people up there -- was getting plugged with cattails, etc., so we cleaned out the outlet," explained Albright.
"In conjunction with that, Holmesville Township added a culvert between Rock and Rice and the lake started to go down. The high water problems went away."
In addition, the Becker County Highway Department installed a new culvert between Mum and Rock lakes in the fall 2004.
Unfortunately, two other things happened:
n Fish died in Rock Lake, prompting some individuals to suggest the lake level is now too low.
Albright said he's been told by the DNR that Rock Lake is subject to winterkill, with or without the 2005 clean-out and culverts.
n Approximately 60 property owners within the Ditch 19 benefits area recently received their tax statements. Each owner has been assessed an extra $50 because the watershed district levied $3,000 as a maintenance assessment against Ditch 19.
According to Albright, some property owners are wondering why their neighbors -- who they believe are in the benefits area -- also weren't assessed
"We're assessing it in accordance with the viewer's report, which was developed for the ditch in 1920," stated Albright.
However, Albright said the district can do a redetermination of the benefits area. The district floated that idea several years ago with the property owners, who rejected it because they didn't want to pay for the study.
Albright said there may be discussion about a regulated level on Rock Lake, but that may require some type of dam. Albright said the DNR could raise objections to that because it wants fish to be able to move freely up and downstream between the lakes.
The meeting will be held at the Callaway Senior Citizens Center at 7:30 p.m.