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William Lee joins SWCD staff

William Lee started work Monday as water quality resource specialist with the Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

William Lee started work Monday with the Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District as a water quality resource specialist.

Lee, 23, most recently worked in Mankato as an environmental specialist inspecting petroleum storage tanks with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Before that, he interned with the North Fork of Crow River River Watershed District in Brooten. He also worked with the Sustaining Lakes in a Changing Environment program at the Department of Natural Resources in Hutchinson, where he studied how human development and climate change affect fish populations.

Lee has a bachelor's degree in watershed management from the University of Minnesota Crookston and an associate's degree in watershed science from Vermilion Community College in Ely.

His work at the SWCD will monitor water quality, test for aquatic invasive species, and facilitate programs to prevent agricultural erosion and conserve wetlands.

Deer View Road project

One project on which Lee will take the lead involves the Deer View Road drainage improvements on the west side of Long Lake.

On June 14, the Henrietta Township Board of Supervisors awarded a bid for the project to Burski Excavating, Inc. of Rice.

Burski Excavating had the lowest bid at $171,072.50. Other bidders included Sellin Brothers, Inc. of Hawley; Racer Construction, Inc., of Osage; and Central Specialties, Inc. of Alexandria.

Bids were solicited through the North Central Minnesota Joint Powers Board, SWCD Technical Services Area 8.

According to Julie Kingsley, district manager of the Hubbard County SWCD, the Deer View Road project is about implementing "best management practices" to reduce soil erosion due to runoff in the shoreland area and to protect Long Lake from silt and nutrients carried by rainwater.

Long Lake is one of the 10 lakes in the area most sensitive to phosphorus, a nutrient that promotes algal bloom, Kingsley said. "We're very concerned about it, because of the development around the lake. We want to try to cut down anything that's going into the lake."

Algae can remove dissolved oxygen from water, leading to fish and plant die-offs and a drop in water quality, which in turn affects property values.

At issue is the way Deer View Road currently collects rainwater at one point and sends it in the lake in a torrent that, according to Kingsley, could be used to kayak through one landowner's yard.

The road "never had ditches," said Kingsley. "It was maintained, but it wasn't built correctly."

As a result, she said, rainwater was washing the landowner's soil into the lake in a great plume of silt.

To correct this, Kingsley said, "They're going to tilt the road so that rainwater goes into the ditch, instead of going the way it does now."

She also noted the road will be resurfaced with recycled asphalt, which may also help stop the sediment.

"They're putting in check dams," she added, describing a series of concrete barriers that "will slow the water down, let it sink into the ground and try to capture the sediment, so it isn't going into the lake."

In place of a culvert under the road, she said, the excavators will put in three dome-shaped structures called thermoplastic corrugated-wall stormwater collection chambers. These will also hold water for a while, allowing it to infiltrate the soil and drop more sediments.

"This should hold a 100-year rain event," said Kingsley, adding that the structures include holes allowing township staff to clean out the accumulated silt.

In addition to this high-tech collection system, the project also includes a rain garden.

"We've dug up the soil and amended it," Kingsley said, "so it will really percolate water, hold it for 24 to 48 hours. Then you plant plants in it that really love water and will help soak it up. They will also take the nutrients out of it, which will help them grow."

The Deer View Road Project is funded in part by a 50/50 matching grant up to $105,000 from Enbridge, administered through the Minnesota Association of Resource Conservation and Development. Henrietta Township is responsible for half of the expenses up to the $210,000 budgeted for the project, plus any additional cost.