Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, January 25, 1999

Ten counties to study Crow River watershed area

By John Holler

Some decisions are made a lot easier than others.

As a general rule, the Wright County Board of Commissioners has employed a philosophy against joint powers agreements with other counties - using the rationale that such empowerments create yet another level of government bureaucracy.

But, when it comes to the Crow River, the board has a different stance - as was shown at the Jan. 19 meeting of the board. The county expressed its support of a presently informal group that wants to examine the problems and pollution concerns on the Crow River - a waterway that is either in or on the border of 10 different central Minnesota counties.

Commissioners Jack Russek and Dick Mattson attended an information meeting early in January that discussed the concerns, which ultimately urged creating a cooperative committee to look at the problems facing counties that border the river.

"The 10 counties that are in the Crow River Watershed are being asked to form a cooperative committee to discuss common goals and problems," Russek said. "Of the 10 counties represented, none of them seemed too interested in having a joint powers agreement, but they do want something done. They want to get something in place before the MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) gets involved and starts making decisions about issues dealing with the river without any local input."

Russek added that grant monies are available to look at potential pollution problems that already exist and may be expected to exist in the next few years. The river serves as a dumping ground for numerous farms and small businesses, which is why the MPCA has begun targeting the river for studies of its own.

Because of Wright County's proximity, Board Chair Pat Sawatzke said it would seem like a natural for the county to be in favor of such a proposed committee.

"We have the most to gain or lose by getting involved in this," Sawatzke said. "Seeing as we have the last few miles of the river in Wright County, we have to deal with all of the pollution that is generated here as well as the pollution that is generated upstream."

The board unanimously approved drafting a letter of support to be sent to the lead county in the project (McLeod County), as well as authorizing any commissioners who wish to attend future meetings of the committee to do so. The next scheduled meeting is set for mid-February.

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