Independence OKs lake quality grant application

The Independence City Council approved an application Tuesday, April 9, for a $50,000 grant that would help pay for clearing blockages in the outlet from Lake Independence — if Hennepin County decides to award the funds.

Five entities are applying for the grant together: the cities of Independence and Medina, Three Rivers Park District, Pioneer Sarah Creek Watershed District and the Lake Independence Citizens Association (LICA). The funds would be awarded under the Natural Resource Incentives for Critical Habitat (NRICH) program and make the Lake Independence outlet project more affordable for the five partners involved in the effort.

The proposed project would span the area from Independence Road to Pagenkopf Road. Estimated cost to remove vegetation and dredge the channel is $277,525, according to a feasibility study conducted by Hakanson Anderson water resources consultants. A $50,000 grant would mean that the five project partners would split the remaining $227,525 in costs.

The city of Medina already has approved the application for the NRICH grant. Medina City Administrator Scott Johnson described the project in the grant application: “The channel dredging and vegetation removal is expected to reduce shoreline erosion and high water levels in Lake Independence significantly. The project will improve water quality in the lake by reducing the amount of sediment from shoreline erosion.”

He continued, “The sediment contains nutrients, including phosphorus and other elements that reduce water quality. The outlet channel will be restored and return lake levels to their previous normal levels.”

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has placed Lake Independence on its list of impaired waters.

The Lake Independence outlet project is scheduled to be completed in 2013-14. After that, LICA members would maintain the outlet on a yearly basis “to keep vegetation from choking off the outlet in the future and creating the same problem,” Johnson said. “Maintenance of the outlet will be ongoing and will last longer than 10 years.”

All of the partners in the effort are interested in working with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota to find out if the corps can assist with a portion of the project, he said.

The Independence City Council also took up other business at its meeting. The council:

APPOINTED City Councilor Norm Wenck as Independence’s representative for developing potentially new amendments to the joint powers agreement under which cities are cooperating in the Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission. Wenck already is on the LMCC Executive Committee.

APPROVED Independence’s 2013 contract with the Loretto Fire Department.

SET 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, as the time and date for a city council study session. The topic will be potential grant applications to get funds for a study of Lake Sarah and Lake Independence sub-watersheds. The study results would be used in efforts of cities to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering the two lakes.