by Dennis Dalman
A cascade of water issues dominated the Dec. 11 Sartell City Council meeting, with discussions and actions concerning flood mitigation, Ditch 13, box culverts, drainage options and pond-dredging.
City Engineer April Ryan outlined the issues and presented options for council consideration.
For years, after what’s called “rain events” (abnormal amounts of rainfall), flooding has occurred in the city, especially in an area near The Wilds neighborhood and along and near what’s known as Ditch 13, a ditch that meanders all the way from Grizzly Lane (in The Wilds) south to 2-1/2 Street S.
The area susceptible to flooding involves a drainage area of 5,800 acres, Ryan noted. In 2022, a Watab Watershed Study was completed, and flooding-mitigation ideas stemmed largely from the study’s results.
Earlier this year, it was announced Sartell will receive from the state $2.5 million for flood mitigation. The project will be done in two phases.
Phase I will involve installation of a box culvert under 13th Avenue N. and also under Fifth Street N. Ditch 13 will be stabilized all along its length, a project that would remove sediment to allow the ditch to hold and to move more water. Eroded areas of the ditch will be stabilized.
As for Phase II, there are several alternatives, and Ryan and the city council seemed to favor Alternative #5. That plan would direct excess water from the flood-prone areas to the north of the city and then into the Mississippi River. That could involve a large-diameter pipe to carry much of the water to the river.
That plan could cost between $5 and $7 million, according to a study done two years ago.
The council voted to approve final specifications and plans for Phase I and to authorize advertising for bids for the project. The vote was 4-0 as member Tim Elness was not present at the meeting.
Ryan said the residents in those areas have been contacted and consulted with as the project plans developed. That communication will continue. The Phase I project will happen in the summer and late fall of 2024.
Ryan said between 2019 and 2020, every public holding pond in Sartell city was inspected, with the help of sonar, for various depths, amount of sediment deposits and so forth. Then a priority list was developed for dredging of sediments. The top ones for dredging are known as ponds 64, 77, 78 and 99.
Pond 64, which is actually two adjacent ponds, is located in the Avalon Village neighborhood area. It is highest on the priorities list.
The estimated cost to dredge Pond 64 is about $230,000. It could be done between January and April of 2024. Sediment dredged from it would be taken to a landfill, Ryan noted.
The next ponds on the list will be dredged one at a time every other year. Ryan said ponds typically require dredging every 15-20 years. Each dredging takes a few weeks. Neighbors in the Avalon Village area have been informed of the project.
The council voted 4-0 to approve the pond dredging and authorized to accept quotes for the dredging operation.