WILLMAR -- A grant agreement between Kandiyohi County and the state will dedicate $136,690 for monitoring water quality and quantity and modeling effects of proposed changes to Grass Lake.
Projects approved Tuesday by the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners are part of a $2.2 million state appropriation to the Board of Water and Soil Resources for the restoration of Grass Lake.
Loren Engelby, county drainage inspector, told the commissioners that $63,490 would be used to "establish the validity and effects" of the project by using updated computer models.
Another $73,200 would be used to sample and monitor storm water at six locations that would be analyzed by a testing laboratory to determine the concentration of target pollutants, according to the grant agreement.
For years, efforts have been attempted to restore the lakebed to provide additional storm-water storage, reduce flooding in Willmar and improve water quality to downstream lakes.
Commissioner Dean Shuck said he was concerned that money wouldn't be spent just for monitoring and testing. "This money was supposed to be used for fixing," he said. "We already know there's a problem."
Engelby said monitoring was necessary to show effects before and after the restoration. He said he didn't want to spend money unless it would be proven to have positive results. He agreed, however, that most of the money should be used for land acquisition and restoration.
Commissioner Richard Falk said he was "very nervous" about the project because every model that's been done so far shows flooding would increase in Willmar.
Shuck said if the engineers' models show increased flooding, the city of Willmar will not support the project.
Commissioner Harlan Madsen said the complex project has many "tangibles" that make the model a "moving target."
Engelby said a number of models, or scenarios, have been reviewed and the best one has been selected and discussed with Willmar officials.
Falk said he thinks the only way the project will work is to lower the level of Lake Wakanda by one foot. Engelby said, however, officials he's spoken to don't agree that would help. Because the land is nearly level from Willmar to Lake Wakanda, he said restoring Grass Lake is the best option.
In other action:
- A conditional use permit for an 850-plot private veterans cemetery was tabled until Oct. 7. One of the conditions included in the permit was establishment of a perpetual care fund. After proposing a fund level of $50,000 that would have to be deposited with the auditor within three months, the commissioners decided they needed more information on how the money could be spent and who could request the funds.
Marlyn Marquardt is proposing to build the cemetery in Colfax Township on the grounds of a golf course for disabled veterans.
- On a 4-1 vote the commissioners agreed to revoke the tobacco license for the Pump and Pantry for 30 days as part of the consequences of failing a tobacco license check three times within 24 months. During a hearing requested by Cenex Central Lakes Cooperative, which owns the gas station and convenience store located on First Street South in Willmar, CEO Conrad Bostron said without the tobacco license the business would be shut down. He said the business would close Tuesday. Commissioner Richard Larson cast the only no vote saying a lot of people use the store and its closure would be a "hardship."
- The commissioners agreed to take over issuing building permits and enforcing building codes for Dovre Township on the condition the township rescind its building code ordinance. The township has asked the county to take over the job. The township had contracted with Mid-Minnesota Development Commission, but that agency has stopped providing the service.
Because the building codes for the county and township are nearly identical, the transition won't be difficult, said County Attorney Boyd Beccue. County Administrator Larry Kleindl said some small towns in the county, which had also contracted with Mid-Minnesota, have contacted the county about providing the service. Beccue said a joint powers agreement would be needed to provide the service to a municipality.