Lakes and river restoration

Hutchinson City Council has set aside $500,000 for restoration projects in Campbell and Otter lakes identified in the city’s River Basin Restoration Plan earlier this year. It is now seeking state funding to improve recreational opportunities and habitat in the lakes and connecting waters.

The city of Hutchinson wants to improve local lakes.

“Historically, from the people I’ve talked to and listened to, they used to be used for all kinds of recreation,” said John Paulson, Hutchinson’s environmentalist.

The city wants to target Otter Lake and Campbell Lake, both on the city’s west side, and rivers and tributaries connected to them. Improvements would be aimed at improving recreational opportunities and restoring fish and wildlife habitat. City residents offered support for the project in a 2015 survey.

“Ultimately what we’re looking at is making some habitat and navigational improvements to the basin to restore its depth,” Paulson said.

Several potential projects could be taken on to improve habitat.

“Everything is kind of on the table. It’s not so dialed in,” Paulson said. “Improvements ... may include shoreland restoration, ponding, wetland restoration. It could be any number of things that would improve water quality.”

Sediment accumulation has decreased the depth of the lakes and connected waters, and the project, if undertaken, would include measures to reduce discharge.

To get the ball rolling, the city is requesting $4.5 million from the state. The project was pitched Tuesday morning when the House Capital Investment Division visited Hutchinson as part of a tour to learn about project needs across the state ahead of the 2020 legislative session. The committee will have to decide what bonding proposals to support. Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, is the lead Republican on the committee.

“I think it’s a very important project,” he said following the presentation. “It has an impact beyond just the Hutchinson area — down the river as well. Hopefully this is something we will be able to give serious consideration to.”

Hutchinson’s water quality improvement efforts include $941,000 to replace the Crow River dam, $1.9 million for regional ponds and $5.1 million annually for wastewater and $1.1 million annually for storm water pollution prevention. The City Council committed $500,000 this year for watershed water quality improvements.

Following the presentation, the lawmakers’ bus tour continued on to Litchfield, where they heard proposals for Litchfield community recreation improvements, a Dassel-Cokato Public School District Regional Activity Center and Annandale Trunk Highway 24 and 55 road improvements.

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