Counties seek Dead Coon Lake outlet solution

TYLER — High water blocked a township road and a driveway this spring at Dead Coon Lake near Tyler, so a multi-county committee was formed this week to decide how to respond.

Both the Lyon County and Lincoln County boards appointed two members to the committee at their Tuesday regular meetings. Area II Minnesota River Basin administrator Kerry Netzke said Redwood County is also expected to name two members.

The decision was made after two visits this month to the Dead Coon Lake outlet site, located in Marshfield Township, Lincoln County north of Tyler. The lake is the source of Coon Creek, which flows into Lyon County and empties into the Redwood River near Russell. The Redwood River watershed stretches from the Norwegian Creek area west of Lake Benton to Redwood Falls.

A first site visit by Area II board members was followed by a second tour on Monday that also included the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“We’re consulting the DNR because Dead Coon Lake is a protected water resource,” Netzke said. “There’s a need for a solution that doesn’t cause too much drainage from the lake and that doesn’t impound water in a way that negatively affects it.”

She said the outlet area has been a seasonal maintenance issue for almost 10 years. Costs to repair the township road after 2019 spring weather conditions are expected to go beyond expenses from any previous year, more than likely exceeding $10,000.

Meanwhile the driveway closing landlocked a rural residence for an extended time period, in which they used waders to cross the water-covered driveway location in order to reach their vehicles.

“The road closing creates a hardship,” Netzke said. “We might not be able to improve things to the point that water never again goes over it, but we’ll try to make changes that lead to a better situation.”

The multi-county committee will review a range of alternatives. It could involve either temporary water impoundment or additional drainage that would happen after water depths go beyond an agreed-upon flood level.

In either case, engineers and hydrologists will base a recommendation on how it affects Dead Coon Lake, as well as downstream land in the vicinity of Coon Creek.

“We’ll be looking very carefully at those potential impacts,” Netzke said. “It won’t involve just passing the high water issues along to others.”

She said downstream concerns focus on the uppermost portion of Coon Creek. Risks become minimal further downstream, to the point that outlet changes are unlikely to have any noticeable effect on the city of Russell or locations just west of it.

Lincoln County Commissioners Mic VanDevere of Tyler and Joe Drietz of Ivanhoe were appointed to the committee. Representatives from Lyon County will be Commissioners Rick Anderson of Garvin and Gary Crowley of Ghent.

“The best way to move forward is to include a committee,” VanDeVere said. “We’ll start by finding out what needs to be done. After that it will involve looking at the costs and deciding how to proceed.”

Yellow Medicine County Commissioner Glen Kack of Canby included the Area II tour of Dead Coon Lake in his commissioner’s report to the rest of the board earlier this month.

Almost all of Yellow Medicine County is in either the Lac qui Parle or Yellow Medicine watersheds, which also lead to the Upper Minnesota River Basin and are therefore part of the Area II service region. Its southeasternmost township (Echo Township which includes the city of Echo) is in the Ramsey Creek subdivision of the Redwood watershed.

Kack said he noticed many of the same flood-related issues at Dead Coon Lake that have occurred this spring at locations throughout southwest and parts of west central Minnesota.

“It’s the kind of thing we’ve seen everywhere,” Kack said. “There’s just been too much water.”