There have been a number of barge groundings, with the subsequent dredging, in the Mississippi River at Spring Lake Park. The U.S. Corps of Engineering is proposing to cut a new channel realignment of the river near the area to reduce the long-term costs of dredging the existing channel. Under state law Dakota County has been the responsible governmental unit for the preparation of the environmental assessment worksheet.
At a recent meeting, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners transferred that designation to the Department of Natural Resources. The county does not have the expertise to prepare the type and scope of environmental assessment worksheet necessary for this project.
The proposed channel realignment will impact fisheries, mussels and the natural systems of the Mississippi River and Spring Lake. The EAW will need to make use of fish and mussel surveys, hydrologic flow models, and incorporate and address technical comments from state and federal agencies, as well as non-profits and other organizations that are interested in the Mississippi River.
If the county had retained its RGU designation, it would have had to hire a consultant at a cost of between $10,000 and $20,000. The county will still be able to provide comments and offer input throughout the process.
The DNR has the expertise to evaluate the impact to the river and its natural systems and is willing to accept the designation.
The DNR is the agency that is responsible for issuing the permits to allow dredging of a new river channel.
With this transfer designation to the DNR, the Environmental Quality Board will need to approve it. As part of its resolution this week, the commissioners directed staff to see that approval.