CROW joint powers improves Crow River Watershed

November 26, 2007

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

A plume of sediment was pouring out from the Crow River near Dayton to the Mississippi River, Diane Sanders, the CROW watershed coordinator, said Tuesday to the Meeker County Board of Commissioners. This sediment, and its potential for contamination, is the reason the Crow River Organization of Water was created in 1999, she said.

CROW improves water quality in the Crow River basin through education and collaboration with its partners and citizens. So far, the organization has prevented 6,377 tons of sediment and 24,000 pounds of debris from flowing into the Mississippi River from the watershed, she said.

The Crow River Watershed is comprised of 1.8 million acres from 10 counties, including Meeker and Wright counties, she said.

The western half of the basin is agricultural, but the eastern portion is developing rapidly, Sanders added.

The basin contains 55 cities, more than 100 townships, and 830 lakes. Its joint powers board has one commissioner from each county. Meeker County Commissioner Ron Kutzke is treasurer. Wright County’s commissioner on the board is Jack Russek.

CROW projects are water quality monitoring; promotion of best management practices, such as feedlot upgrades and rain gardens; and low-interest money for septic system improvements.

Commissioner Amy Wilde said she has seen rain gardens in the parking lot at the University of Minnesota Arboretum. They are plots of hosta and other plants that use a lot of water, to absorb run-off from streets and parking lots so it doesn’t flow into fragile streams and lakes.

Crow also provides volunteer opportunities and education programs. A river clean-up was sponsored Sept. 15 in which volunteers removed 11 tons of trash and debris from the river. The clean-up is in the fall, when the river flow is low, Sanders said.

Volunteers found a refrigerator, numerous tires, a metal grill, vacuum cleaner, office furnishings, and all kinds of trash dumped into the North, Middle and South Forks of the Crow River, as well as in Buffalo Creek, she said.

In other clean-up business, the county board hear a report from Doug Keller, county zoning enforcement technician. Keller said the county cleared away 57 items this year, including 19 junk cars, six mobile homes, and 13 piles of tires and debris.

Odds and ends

In other business, the county board:

• hired Jonathan Agre to be a full-time deputy, depending on if he passes his background check. He is the son of the Renville County Sheriff. If hired, he will be paid $18.33 an hour. Christopher Hoard of Big Lake withdrew from consideration for the position, according to Meeker County Sheriff Mike Hirman.

• changed the minimum price on a tax-forfeited property on Minnie Belle Shores to $30,000 from $75,000. It had been assessed according to the wrong year’s standards, according to County Assessor Bob Anderson.

• transferred $1 million from the county’s revenue fund for the Aaker Auditorium remodeling project in Litchfield.

• heard a report from Mike Halterman of the county highway department that, if the contractor agrees, the county can use the excavated dirt from the hospital expansion to use on Meeker County State Aid Highway 15 next year. The plan will save the contractor money also, because the dirt won’t need to be hauled any farther than the county property in Litchfield.