DNR permitting delays Hallock Dam project

By Anna Jauhola
Bidding on the new Hallock Dam structure and project will not happen likely until this summer.
After the overly wet fall, plus flooding, much of the project to replace the Hallock Dam was put on hold. Engineer Jeff Langan, of Houston Engineering in Thief River Falls, visited with the city council at its regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 6.
The major delay at this point is getting a Dam Safety Permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In order to get that, the DNR needs flowage easements upstream of the dam.
“What’s controlling the schedule is the DNR has asked us to acquire what we call flowage easements upstream of the dam,” Langan said. “Because we’re now making modifications, we’d be creating a higher stage of pool elevation upstream for the lower floods. When we get into more significant floods, we’re going to be dropping the flood stage upstream.”
He said the increase in pool elevations during lesser floods is minimal – between one-tenth and two-tenths above the banks. However, because this is an issue, the DNR requires them to acquire the easements. Langan said property owners will still have full control over their properties, but the city would be asking them to donate the rights for flowage easements.
“I think everybody up here would like to see the higher pool levels we’re proposing,” he added. “It’s not a significant change we’re doing here. We’re doing it strictly because the DNR wants us to.”
Mayor Dave Treumer agreed to work with Langan to speak with all affected property owners to acquire the easements and move the project forward. Langan hopes to get all easements by the end of February and have the Dam Safety Permit by the end of March. Through May and June, Houston Engineering hopes to get the final plans in place and begin advertising for bids in either June or July, open bids in July or August and start construction in September. He hopes the project will be done by late summer 2021.
The whole project began when the city received a $2 million Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council grant. The funding is available through 2023.
Currently, the project is over budget at $2.4 million.
In the original proposal, Houston Engineering estimated too low on the amount of rock needed for various portions of the project. However, Langan is confident they will come in at or below budget.
“We’d love to be at $1.6 million, but I think there’s enough wiggle room in this project if we get $150,000 in contingencies,” he said. “I’m hoping we get it all done we can bid it out so if prices come in too high we can pull some of the items out and get this thing affordable and still maintain the intent of the project to get the fish upstream and downstream, and structure in place.”
In other business, the council:
• Approved the following committee appointments: Naomi Larson, acting mayor; Darrell Johnson, Airport Commission; Mike Totleben, Personnel Committee; Jay Fridt, Housing and Redevelopment Authority; and Kalli Peterson, Cheri Reese and Jennifer Ristad, Hallock Library Board.
• Approved the 2020 fee schedule, which includes fees for youth baseball, pool passes, swimming lessons, camping rates, utility fees, city hall rental, liquor licenses, and miscellaneous licenses and permits.
• Approved a gambling permit application from the Kittson County Agricultural Society for a raffle to be held at the Kittson County Fair this summer.

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