Minutes - Jan 21, 2010

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF

THE MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT

BOARD OF MANAGERS

January 21, 2010

CALL TO ORDER

The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by President Jim Calkins at 6:54 p.m. at the District offices, 18202 Minnetonka Boulevard, Deephaven, Minnesota. 

MANAGERS PRESENT

James Calkins, Pamela Blixt, Lee Keeley, Richard Miller, Jeffery Casale, Brian Shekleton and Mike Klingelhutz.

MANAGERS ABSENT

None.

OTHERS PRESENT

Eric Evenson, District Administrator; Udai Singh, Water Quality Program Manager; Michael Panzer, District Consulting Engineer; Michael Welch, Assistant District Counsel.

MATTERS FROM THE FLOOR

None.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

Mr. Evenson asked to pull the checking register from the Consent Agenda, Manager Miller asked to pull the minutes of the January 14, 2010, Board meeting and Manager Shekleton asked to add a Citizens Advisory Council report to the agenda.  Manager Klingelhutz moved, seconded by Manager Keeley, to approve the agenda so amended.  Upon vote, the motion carried.

CONSENT AGENDA

It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Keeley, to approve the Consent Agenda, consisting of the petty cash and surety registers.   Manager Klingelhutz asked, and Mr. Evenson clarified, that the petty cash register does not include credit card expenses, but is instead expenses staff are authorized to expend during the month.  Upon vote, the motion carried.

REGULAR AGENDA

Committee and Task Force Reports

Manager Blixt reported on the Tuesday, January 19, Metro MAWD meeting.  She stated that the agenda consisted of Louis Smith reporting on the Open Meeting Law and serial meetings issues, and Julie Westerlund and Jay Riggs reporting on minimal impact development, a three-year effort to develop standards.  She added that new chair of the Metro MAWD is Mike Thienes from Capital Region Watershed District. 

Manager Miller reported on the Property Search Task Force, stating that after review of the request for proposals for consulting services by James Wisker, the District attorneys, and Mark Ten Eyck, another draft was prepared.  The task force will send a revised version of the RFP out and if there are no objections from managers, the RFP will be issued.  The idea, Manager Miller stated, is to improve the land-acquisition process and to provide a filter to bring only high quality potential acquisitions. 

Manager Casale noted that all email when sent out to a group should be blind cover copied to inhibit distribution to the recipient group in violation of the Open Meeting Law.

Manager Shekleton said that at the recent Citizens Advisory Committee meeting all alternates were promoted to permanent representative status.  He added that the meetings will be switched back to the last Thursday of the month given the conclusion of the rulemaking process.   The next meeting is February 25.  Manager Shekleton stated that the committee is requesting that the District complete an analysis of Atrazine and report back to the group.  He added that the committee is interested in receiving minutes from all District meetings.  Manager Casale stated that some members of the Committee are concerned about herbicide use in water and want the District to pursue legislation to get authority to regulate such herbicide use.  In response to a question from Manager Calkins, Mr. Evenson said that the literature review the District is planning will not include Atrazine.  Finally, Manager Shekleton stated that Dr. Singh gave an impressive water quality presentation.  Manager Klingelhutz will be the liaison for the next CAC meeting.

Manager Calkins reviewed the upcoming Committee and Task Force schedule, noting that the Legislative Task Force meeting on January 29, 2010, will take place at McCoy’s Restaurant.

The managers discussed options for the time, place and structure for a meeting with the City of Victoria.  Mr. Evenson stated that the city proposed that the entire Board meet with the city council prior to a council meeting in February.  The managers agreed that the meeting should take place at a site acceptable to both groups, not at either the District offices or city hall, and not part of the council’s regular meeting.  Mr. Evenson stated that he will speak with the city administrator to coordinate an appropriate time and location.

BOARD ACTION ITEMS

Minutes of the January 14, 2010 Meeting

Manager Miller moved, seconded by Manager Klingelhutz, to approve the minutes of the January 14, 2010, meeting.  Upon vote, the motion carried.

Mr. Evenson stated that he wished to add three checks to the check register that have been issued for tuition reimbursement to district employees.  The updated check register consists of checks 29558 through 29626 for a total accounts payable of $150,588.26.  Manager Miller moved, seconded by Manager Shekleton, to approve the check register.  Upon vote, the motion carried.

Clean Marina Program

Mr. Evenson presented the request to the Board of Managers for a commitment of funding for the developing Minnesota Clean Marina Program.  Mr. Evenson stated that the proposed program will augment the District’s water-quality protection efforts by encouraging marina owners to implement best management practices.  He added that the funding is requested is startup dollars that will help make the organization self-sustaining and thereby reduce District program spending in the future.  Mr. Evenson added that the program will be a nongovernmental source of information on best management practices for an important target audience.  Mr. Evenson noted that a Clean Marina Program is described in the District’s water education program plan.  He conceded that there is a risk that the program would not be established in the District.  But he added that the approval sought from the Board this evening is a commitment, with the condition that the program come back to the Board with an agreement that will include specifics prior to the final commitment of funding by the District. 

The managers asked what other entities have committed funding for the program.  Mr. Jerry Rockvam, owner of Rockvam Boat Yards and the organizer of the program, approached and presented to the Board, stating that the Midwest Marina Association made a commitment of $5,000 and the North Central Marina Association made a commitment of $10,000.  He said the Minnesota Sea Grant is considering funding as well. He said a wide variety of entities and organizations are involved developing the organization and he expects it to be successful.  Manager Keeley moved, seconded by Manager Casale, to approve a commitment by the District of $10,000 in funding to assist the startup of the Clean Marina Program, contingent on Board review of a detailed work plan, list of expenditures and a schedule and agreement.  Manager Shekleton stated that he would not support the motion because he wants to see support from more marinas and other funders before committing District funding.  He stated that the District should not commit funding when there is a risk that the program will not be established in the watershed.  Manager Miller moved, seconded by Manager Blixt, to amend the prior motion to commit $5,000 in funding. 

The managers discussed whether it was more appropriate for the program to seek funding from the Cynthia Krieg Grant Program.  Mr. Welch added that to satisfy the public purpose requirement for District expenditures, the agreement to come forward before the District actually commits fund will have to identify specific outcomes in exchange for the District funding.  Mr. Rockvam stated that he does not mind specifying outcomes, and he believes that by late fall or early 2011, 75 to 80 percent of the marinas around Lake Minnetonka will be participating.  In response to a question from Manager Casale, Mr. Evenson stated that the District is only making a commitment at this time because the program organizers need additional time to flesh out the details of how the program will work.  Manager Calkins stated that there will need to be more detail on the deliverables and other participants in the program before the District actually commits funding to the program.  Mr. Welch stated that by approving the motion on the table, the District is committing to funding the program if the conditions are fulfilled.  In response to a question from Manager Casale, Mr. Rockvam stated that he thinks it will take $25,000 to $35,000 to develop the program. 

Upon vote, the motion to amend the motion was approved.  

Manager Klingelhutz stated that he does not support the process by which the request came before the Board since the District has a program for funding such programs.  In response to a question from Manager Casale, Mr. Rockvam stated that he will go to all the marinas around Lake Minnetonka to get them involved.   Upon vote, the motion carried 5-2 (Managers Klingelhutz and Shekleton voting against).

District Water Quality Programs and Lake Grading System

Dr. Udai Singh made the first of his two presentations to the Board, one on the District’s definition of water quality and the second on the District’s lake grading system.  Dr. Singh first reviewed the sampling parameters District staff uses to measure the physical, biological and chemical integrity of District waters.  In response to questions from the managers, Dr. Singh stated that while the District has taken over zebra mussel monitoring and sampling in Lake Minnetonka, the water-quality measures do not specifically account for invasive species.  Dr. Singh also discussed the District’s measurement of endocrine disruptors and the relationship of the District sampling to the Minnesota State Rules establishing water-quality standards.

Dr. Singh next presented the District’s lake grading system, stating that one of the principal purposes of the A to F grades is to convey a measure of water-quality status to the public.  He said that the District’s system is based on a system developed by Dick Osgood for the Met Council a number of years ago.  He stated that the system does not relate to either Environmental Protection Agency or Minnesota Pollution Control Agency standards.  Dr. Singh explained that the water quality measures use the Carlson Trophic State Index, which describes lakes as either oligothropic, mesotrophic, eutrophic or hypereutrophic.  The District system uses measures of chlorophyll A and total phosphorus along with Secchi disc readings to establish A to F grades, with pluses and minuses.  Dr. Singh stated that the public is used to the grading system but District staff recognizes the shortcomings of the system and looks to the Board for direction on whether the system should be modified, and if so, how. 

Manager Casale stated that people are used to seeing the grades and they are a system that the public can understand.  Dr. Singh stated that he agrees, but the system falls short in explaining to the public why there are trends downward in water quality in some waterbodies.  Manager Calkins agreed that the grading cannot just be abandoned, but the District may need to use a dual system of some kind for a period of time.  The managers discussed the difficulty of accounting for an invasive species like zebra mussels, which will, when it first enters a waterbody, cause clarity to go up while total phosphorus goes down, leaving the public with an inaccurate understanding of the health of the lake. 

In response to a question and a discussion of the history of some of the misperceptions about water quality in the District from Manager Blixt, Dr. Singh showed an alternative water-quality measurement system that uses colored bar graphs to measure aesthetics, aquatic plants, water clarity and public health risk.  Dr. Singh explained that to establish and maintain such a system would require significantly greater resources than the District now devotes to water-quality measurement.  He added that District water-quality measurements and information are available on the District website.  Manager Blixt pointed out that the public would be better served by a system that includes graphs and shows changes in water quality over time.  Mr. Evenson noted that the District does monitor for macro invertebrates through the River Watch program, which, along with the index of biotic integrity, are increasingly used to measure water quality. 

Manager Calkins noted that there seems to be no real consensus on how the program should change, but said that it’s clear that a more realistic measure is needed.  The managers discussed getting input on the issue from the established District hydrodata group.  Manager Miller moved, seconded by Manager Shekleton, to add Manager Keeley to the hydrodata group and to establish a task force to work with staff to come up with a proposal to change the water-quality grading system.  Upon vote, the motion carried

District Role in Street Sweeping

Mr. Evenson presented the issue for the Board, noting that Mr. Panzer’s memo on street sweeping indicates the science on street sweeping is not complete yet and cannot quantify the benefits of street sweeping.  Mr. Evenson said that if the Board wishes to go forward with a District street sweeping effort a flow-chart process should be developed to address the variability in the street sweeping data described in the memo.  He stated that research is needed to study cost-effectiveness and to get info necessary to develop an effective program.  Mr. Panzer said that his review of recent documented studies found inconsistent results.  The variability has to do with the type of sweeper used, the way that the results were measured and particular characteristics of the area studied.  He said street sweeping shows promise, but he recommends a go-slow approach, using an incentive program for cities that would involve the District’s designing monitoring parameters to enable collection of information necessary to gauge program effectiveness.  Mr. Evenson said that such a design would fit with the agreements the District has with watershed cities that want to use street sweeping as a BMP to achieve their phosphorus loading reduction goal.  In response to a question from Manager Calkins, Mr. Panzer stated that street sweeping appears more cost effective than capital improvement projects.  Manager Calkins added that street sweeping reduces the needs for pond maintenance and associated cost.  Manager Blixt moved, seconded by Manager Calkins, to direct staff to develop a proposal for the studies needed to provide the District with the necessary research on the effectiveness of street sweeping within the next three months.  Upon vote, the motion carried. 

District Role in Invasive Species Management

Mr. Welch presented the issue, stating the Board has discussed its options to control invasive species at several prior meetings and observing that the principal responsible entity for management of invasive species in Minnesota is the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  Mr. Welch said that invasive species are identified in the District’s Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan as a threat to ecological integrity and are increasingly being recognized as a water-quality issue as well.  For these reasons, control of invasive species such as zebra mussels is squarely within the District’s interests.  Mr. Welch added that to control invasive species, the District would have to regulate surface-water uses.  He noted that the DNR is able in circumstances described in statute as an “invasive species emergency” to contract with entities to exercise certain authority to control invasive species.  Mr. Welch also noted that the DNR is currently conducting open houses to discuss its invasive species program. 

The managers discussed the potential effectiveness of a District-led invasive-species control program and the relationship of such efforts to other entities’ invasive species programs.  Manager Calkins said the District must do its due diligence to determine how economically and politically viable a District-led effort is. The managers discussed the likelihood that zebra mussels will infest Lake Minnetonka.  In response to a question from Manager Keeley, Dr. Singh said the Lake Minnetonka invasive species task force has not broached the issue of implementation of a control program. But he noted that he was out of the country for the last couple of meetings.  After discussion of the public relations, media and enforcement efforts required for an invasive species control program, Manager Calkins stated that the first step is a meeting with the DNR, and communications with county board members and potentially cities.  If all of these entities indicate to the District that it should not pursue a regulatory program, the District would have to heed such advice. 

Manager Blixt stated that she is somewhat leery of the District’s ability to implement a program to control invasive species.  She wonders if the District shouldn’t be focusing on being prepared to deal with zebra mussels when watershed waterbodies become infested.  After further discussion, Mr. Evenson stated that even if the District were to initiate a regulatory program today, the associated rulemaking and minor plan amendment process would take a minimum of six months to complete.  Manager Blixt moved, seconded by Manager Miller, to direct staff to provide the Board with research and information on the consequences on waterbody use of invasive-species infestation, especially zebra mussels, and to set up a meeting with the DNR.  She added that staff should set up meetings of managers with commissioners in Carver and Hennepin counties to discuss District invasive-species regulation. These efforts are to be completed within the next two months.   In response to questions from managers on the analysis needed to ascertain susceptibility of District waterbodies to invasive species, Dr. Singh reported that it would cost $100,000 to $200,000 over two years to gather and analyze the necessary data on calcium, potassium, total hardness, ammonia and current velocity.  He added that the District has not yet analyzed the parameters for which it does have data to determine whether zebra mussels would be supported or not. 

Manager Blixt clarified her motion, stating that staff should arrange the meeting and discussion with DNR but that managers need to meet one-on-one with county commissioners and their staffs.  Upon vote, the motion carried.

Administrator’s Report

Mr. Evenson stated there will be an article in the Sunday Star Tribune January 24 on the Minnehaha Glen project.   Manager Calkins noted that he had spoken at length with the reporter.  Mr. Panzer said that he had spoken with her as well.

Mr. Evenson stated that the District retreat next week will be in the Fireplace Room at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

The managers expressed a desire for more compact, succinct department reports in the administrator’s report, focusing on highlights from the prior month.

Finally, Mr. Evenson reported that due to some changes in the way that the Veteran’s Home Project will be conducted, the District will realize $140,000 in savings.  He said the Veteran’s Home Society is taking on some of the work that the District had planned to complete.  He added that the District has seen good results with the pervious pavers installed so far as well.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was adjourned at 10:32 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lee Keeley, Secretary