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May 9, 2019 Board Minutes

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF

THE MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT

BOARD OF MANAGERS

 

May 9, 2019

 

CALL TO ORDER

 

The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District was called to order by President Sherry White at 7:00 p.m. on May 9, 2019, at the MCWD office, 15320 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka, Minnesota.

 

MANAGERS PRESENT

 

Sherry White, Bill Olson, Richard Miller, Kurt Rogness, Jessica Loftus, Arun Hejmadi.

 

MANAGER ABSENT

 

Eugene Maxwell, Manager Designate.

 

DISTRICT STAFF AND CONSULTANTS PRESENT

 

James Wisker, Administrator; Brian Beck, Research & Monitoring Program Manager; Cathy Reynolds, Operations Manager; Becky Christopher, Policy Planning Manager; Chris Meehan, Consulting Engineer; Michael Welch, Counsel.

 

MATTERS FROM THE FLOOR

 

None.

 

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

 

President White requested the removal of item 11.2. Manager Miller moved and Manager Rogness seconded approval of the agenda as amended. Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

 

INFORMATION ITEMS AND CORRESPONDENCE

 

Introduction of New Staff

 

Brian Beck introduced Chris Kucek and Daniel Schacht as new members of the watershed staff, serving as field assistants this summer. Mr. Kucek and Mr. Schacht introduced themselves to the Board of Managers and provided information on their backgrounds. The managers welcomed Mr. Kucek and Mr. Schacht.

 

CONSENT AGENDA

 

Manager Rogness moved and Manager Miller seconded approval of the consent agenda, consisting of the April 25, 2019, minutes of the meeting of the Board of Managers and Resolution 19-056: Amending the School Lake Preserve Conservation Easement:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers hereby authorizes the Board President to execute the First Amendment to the School Lake Preserve Conservation Easement, with non-material changes and on the advice of counsel.

 

Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

 

Manager Miller requested clarification on the subject of the School Lake conservation easement. Michael Hayman explained that the easement is over the Marx property, and the change addresses revision of the recording information and will bring more of the property into the operation of the buffer protections in the easement held by MCWD.

 

Manager White reported that she sat in last week on the first session of onboarding for new manager Arun Hejmadi and that the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts Resolutions Committee is already gearing up for the next legislative session. She said there is an updated Citizens Advisory Committee meeting schedule in the agenda for this evening’s meeting, and she noted that Manager Rogness attended the May 1 meeting of the CAC. Manager Rogness reported that Tiffany Schaufler presented on hydrology and flood control in the District and how the District handles calls about high-water levels and flood risk. She also covered the master plan for the Minnehaha Creek Parkway and subwatershed. In response to a question from Manager Olson, Manager Rogness stated that 15 members of the CAC attended.

 

Manager Loftus reported on the Operations and Programs Committee meeting prior to this evening’s Board meeting, noting that there was a report focused on the research and monitoring program from Brian Beck and that he provided good information on the strategic direction of the program and on how data collection and assessment fits into the District’s overall strategic direction.

 

Manager White noted that the schedule for the upcoming meetings is as presented in the agenda.

 

Action Items

 

Resolution 19-057: Approval of Mound Local Water Management Plan

 

Becky Christopher provided the managers with an overview of the City of Mound’s local water management plan, which is before the managers for approval. She stated that the city is entirely within Minnehaha Creek Watershed District jurisdiction and the Dutch, Langdon and Minnetonka subwatersheds. She stated that there are five impaired waters for which Mound has load assignments and the plan appropriately specifies the city’s commitment to reducing phosphorus loading. She said the plan also has priority on low-impact development, and storm-sewer and pond maintenance, along with education. Manager Miller moved and Manager Olson seconded adoption of Resolution 19-057.

 

With regard to a question from Manager Miller, Ms. Christopher confirmed that the city has some stringent development restrictions and that it is entirely on sanitary sewer. Manager Rogness commented that the city’s plan is among the more detailed that have been reviewed by the District so far. Mr. Wisker said that watershed staff has on a good rapport with city staff. He added that the city manager is a former public works person and grasps the District’s regional priorities approach. He said that the city is only 3.6 square miles of land and water. Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

 

Resolution 19-052: Approval of Contract for IT Consultant Services

 

Cathy Reynolds presented a proposed contract with WSB for information technology consulting. She stated that the amount of the contract, approximately $40,000, is well within the $100,000 2019 budget for information technology. She stated that a primary product of this first of two phases of consulting for information technology will be a budget to be brought forward for phase II that will be a mixture of additional consulting and purchase of technology and software. She stated that the consultant is also tasked with providing a report on the phase I work in August and that the work will be coordinated with the District’s geographic information systems and website work. Manager Olson moved and Manager Rogness seconded adoption of Resolution 19-052.

 

In response to questions from Manager Loftus, Ms. Reynolds stated that the difference between phase I and phase II, and the reason for the separation between the two is that the exact scope and parameters of phase II won’t be known until the phase I work is completed. She stated that the phase I work primarily involves assessing the District’s needs and developing options for vendors to provide the services, software and hardware that the District needs. Phase II will involve applying the requirements developed in phase I and beginning implementation. In response from a further question from Manager Loftus, Ms. Reynolds said that the proposal is to amend the contract to include phase II rather than contracting for both now because it is unclear right now what the exact scope of work will be for phase II. Manager Miller emphasized the importance of coming up with a system that supports the District’s organizational strategic structure. Mr. Wisker responded, noting that the District is looking for plug-and-play technology that will not involve a great deal of customization but rather will use existing and known capabilities and plug them into the District’s technology. He emphasized that the District is pursuing a framework that other watersheds are using, though it will have its unique elements. Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

 

Resolution 19-055: Authorization to Execute Contract with Consultant to Conduct the Long Lake Creek Subwatershed Nutrient Assessment

 

Brian Beck again came forward to discuss the preparation of the Long Lake Creek subwatershed nutrient assessment. He stated that this is part of the District’s responsive program, and the work will address the excess nutrients in Long Lake and as well as flooding issues. He stated that through a Clean Water Fund accelerated implementation grant the District is pursuing two parts of the strategy, namely carp management, and watershed and in-lake nutrient management. The work will also result in a road map for implementation that will largely be carried out by the city. Manager Miller moved and Manager Rogness seconded adoption of Resolution 19-055.

 

In response to a question from Manager Miller, Mr. Wisker stated that this is really the first instance of the District implementing a responsive project and that there isn’t really a model or system or framework developed for such work. This project is unique and to some degree the District will be figuring out what commonalities there will be to implementation of the District’s responsive program. Manager Miller emphasized that it is critical that the District not get into the habit of spreading projects around the District randomly or just to spread them around. Mr. Wisker stated that the assistance that the District is bringing on this particular project is squarely within its wheelhouse and is appropriate to its mission and vision. Manager Olson added that the CAC had a detailed discussion of the planned versus responsive model and that the CAC made recommendations that are being implemented in this project. Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

 

Staff Updates

 

Administrator’s Report

 

Mr. Wisker stated that over May 8-9 the District received an average of 1.5 inches of rain. Lake Minnetonka is up to 929.87 feet, which is 1.96 feet below the emergency overflow level. He said a flow of 250 cubic feet per second will be maintained at Gray’s Bay dam in order to maintain room for additional rain as may be needed. He stated that flow is at 370 cubic feet per second at Lake Hiawatha. Second, he stated that he encountered a gentleman at a recent real estate professionals’ conference who provided him with promotional materials on an organization dedicated to the premise that watershed district regulations are overburdening development project. Mr. Wisker provided copies of the materials to the managers. Mr. Wisker stated he was on a panel with a land-use attorney and a professional from Westwood, who talked further about the issues this particular individual, Mark Lambert, has with watershed district regulation, which stem from some projects he has proposed and the regulatory requirements imposed by Brown’s Creek Watershed District. Mr. Wisker stated that he will keep the managers up to speed with his interaction on this topic. Finally, Mr. Wisker stated that as the managers have heard there will be a transition in the education and communications department and that Darren Lochner had his last day at MCWD Tuesday of last week. He said that he is working with Telly Mamayek to determine how to fill that position.

 

Mr. Wisker turned to Michael Welch for a report on the decision in the state court of appeals regarding the suit against the Department of Natural Resources for permitting the degradation of White Bear Lake water levels. Mr. Welch stated that the decision will not directly affect MCWD, but the court’s determination that the public trust doctrine does not extend to groundwater was not necessary to make under the facts of the case and, in his view, not correctly made. The decision would send the matter back to DNR to re-review the water-appropriations permits around the lake, but the homeowners’ association that brought the suit has stated it will appeal to the state supreme court.

 

Adjournment

 

There being no further business, the meeting of the board of managers adjourned at 8.05 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Kurt Rogness, Secretary

Minutes Type: 
Board of Managers