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There might be hope for township culvert project

Grey Cloud Channel. (Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner)

Grey Cloud Island Township officials are hoping they can tap some of the federal economic stimulus money to fix the culvert under "First Fill" on County Road 75.

Township officials want to install a culvert under the road so water from the Mississippi River can flow under First Fill into Grey Cloud Channel. The channel flows back into the river south of the portion of Grey Cloud Island in Cottage Grove.

A small culvert was installed under First Fill when the road was raised after the 1965 flood, according to Planning Commission Member Tom Bell.

The culvert gradually became nearly blocked over the years but few residents were concerned because the river's water quality was worse than that in the channel.

Over the past 10 years, the situation has reversed with water quality in the river improving. Channel water, however, is nearly stagnant and infected with Eurasian Milfoil, according to Bell, a retired biology teacher. Moving water would improve water quality, but milfoil might have to be harvested, Bell said.

Two years ago, University of Minnesota student civil engineers took on a project, at no cost to the township, to design a new culvert.

The value of the work was estimated at $250,000 and the project cost estimated at $300,000, money the smallest township in the state doesn't have.

Town Board Member Paul Schoenecker told board members at the May 11 town board meeting that he'll complete the paperwork to meet the June 14 deadline for money to be distributed next year. If the project is authorized, the township will have to pay 20 percent.

The new culvert would be 4 feet wide and allow canoeists to go under County Road 75. It would also have a gate that could be closed if there is a flood.

Bell said he would contact Friends of the Mississippi, an environmental preservation organization, and the National Park Service to get letters of support for the proposal.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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