Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Shawn Jansen
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Lake property owners fighting high water levels


October 24, 2019

“I have a moat around my house right now,” Scott Quittem of Windemere Township told the township board at their meeting October 10. He is a landowner on Sturgeon Lake, which he said has had rising water levels the last three years. He questioned why the high lake level is not even an issue on the board’s agenda.

He said 75 feet of Sturgeon Island Road is under water, and coming into the freezing season, he is concerned for the damage that will be caused by that water freezing and from ice out in the spring when the ice heaves and is blown against the shoreline.

“I don’t understand why something isn’t being done on this level,” Quittem added.

“I really don’t think the township has much of anything to do with the water levels of Sturgeon Lake,” said Township Chair John Wesely.

Wesely said he would love to wave a wand and make the water levels go down.

“There is nowhere for it to go,” said Wesely. Some can flow into Dago Lake, but it doesn’t have an outlet either, he said. Wesely said the township doesn’t have the authority to send that water somewhere else. He did say he sympathized with the situation.

Quittem asked shouldn’t the township be looking out for its taxpayers.

“How are you looking out for that situation if you’re not doing anything?” said Quittem.

Quittem said he and other residents have been speaking with the Soil and Water Conservation District and with the state hydrologist.

“I don’t know what this entity here is here for if it’s not to look out for situations like that,” said Quittem.

Quittem said he understood the township is not the Department of Natural Resources, the ones to manage the water.

“You are the mouthpiece for us, the taxpayers, and let them know that we need help up here. And I would think it would be more valuable coming from the Windemere Township Board as a collective group sending that message than a bunch of individuals calling these people.”

Biosolids application

Supervisor Heidi Kroening spoke to a recently approved application for a landowner to apply biosolids on his property. She said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued a permit in September.

Kroening explained the process is highly regulated now, and that the treated solids from wastewater treatment are no longer considered hazardous and can be used as fertilizer.

Though it was stated the township banned applicaton of biosolids in 2003, Wesely said the state overturned that decision. Kroening said there is a process the township could take to deny applications on a yearly basis.

Kroening said she would invite the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, from where the biosolids would come, to give a presentation on the process during a board meeting.

Road update

Road Maintenance Supervisor Mike Buetow reported he estimated the area received 5-6 inches of rain recently.

“I’ve been here 19 years and I’ve never seen that many washouts or had to close that many roads,” Buetow said. He said Island Lake Road took a heavy hit — the culvert couldn’t handle the water — and it had just been chip sealed. He said they were lucky the township didn’t lose the whole road. He said it was opened in two days. Another road with an old clay tile culvert collapsed, and that road was repaired and open. Buetow said his staff worked day and night.

Buetow said the dump truck was repaired, and salt was delivered, so there is a salt/sand mix ready for when it snows.

One resident asked about the resurfacing of Sturgeon Island Road. Buetow said he wanted to contact Pine County to include that road’s resurfacing with the bridge repair. He said he doesn’t want to damage a new road by having it completed before the bridge repair, which Buetow thought would include a lot of heavy equipment.

The resident also voiced concerns about the bridge and road project in view of the rising lake levels, and if the engineers will be considering the lake levels when planning the project.

Zoning update

“Still experiencing high water levels. Lots of great questions, no good answers,” said Phill White, zoning administrator. White said there are municipalities and individuals dealing with flooding and high water from Canada to Louisiana.

He said he has been in touch with a geotechnical engineer in Duluth about bluff and shoreline, and the fixes are expensive. With Sturgeon Lake being an evaporation lake, adding sand, he said, is making the problem worse. White said he has not turned down permits for shoreline restoration.

White said they have worked on the zoning budget and job descriptions for the zoning administrator and assistant.

Other business

Vern Anderson III said subcommittees have been formed for work on the Sturgeon Island Bridge and its possible historical designation.

Wesely read a couple of emails regarding compliments on road maintenance in Windemere Township.

Clair Strandlie reported the Planning Commission is working on revisions to the comprehensive plan related to commercial properties such as SunBay Mobile Home Park and Campground and Sand Lake Resort.


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