Board of Managers
President-Term May 2022
Vice President-Term May 2024
Manager-Term May 2024
Treasurer-Term May 2022
Secretary-Term May 2022
Manager-Term May 2023
Manager-Term May 2023
Stantec Consulting Services
Ramstad, Skoyles, and Winters P.A.
Citizen Advisory Committee
Lake Detroiters Assoc.
Lake Detroiters Assoc./Becker COLA
Lakes Melissa & Sallie Improvement Association
Lakes Melissa & Sallie Improvement Association
Long Lake Betterment Association
Becker Co. Commissioner
Pearl Lake Association
Fox Lake Association
Izaak Walton League
Sucker Creek Preserve
Detroit Lakes High School
Shelly Gilson and Kellie Wolf
Detroit Lakes Elementary School
Becker County Museum
Technical Advisory Committee
MN DNR Ecological Services – Hydrologist
City of DL – Public Works
Detroit Lakes City Administrator
MN Pollution Control Agency
Board of Water & Soil Resources
Becker Soil & Water Conservation District, Administrator
MN DNR, Wildlife Supervisor
Becker County Natural Resources Dept- Supervisor
Purpose and Mission
The Pelican River Watershed District is a special unit of government organized under Minnesota Statues 103D to manage water resources in the watershed. It covers approximately 120 square miles in Becker and Otter Tail Counties and includes the upper reaches of the Pelican River which eventually drains to the Otter Tail and Red Rivers.
The Pelican River Watershed District is led by a seven (7) member Board of Managers that guides the implementation of the goals and objectives set forth in the PRWD Watershed Management Plan. Board Managers are appointed by the Becker County Commissioners and each manager represents a distinct geographical area within the District. Managers serve a 3-year term and can be re-appointed to serve additional terms. The District’s three (3) full-time employees include the Administrator, who oversees daily operations; the Water Resource Coordinator, who assists with project permitting, monitoring, and education/outreach programs; and the Office Coordinator, who manages payroll, bookkeeping, education/outreach, and assists with day-to-day operations. The District hires seasonal employees to assist with monitoring and to conduct the aquatic plant roadside pick up program. The District contracts the services of an engineer, legal counsel, and an auditing firm.
The District has a Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) and a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). These committees meet on an annual and ad hoc basis to identify water resource issues, generate new ideas and approaches, provide input on programs and projects, review and comment on implementation activities, identify collaborative funding opportunities, and generally provide recommendations to the Board of Managers. Together the CAC and TAC help strengthen the District’s connections with the public and other agencies.
The Board of Managers adopted a Mission Statement in 1994, and in the Watershed Management Plan adopted in January 2020, reaffirmed its commitment to protecting and improving the water resources in the watershed.
“The mission of the Pelican River Watershed District is to enhance the quality of water in the lakes within its jurisdiction. It is understood that to accomplish this, the District must ensure that wise decisions are made concerning the management of streams, wetlands, lakes, groundwater, and related land resources which affect these lakes.”
The Board of Managers meet on a monthly basis, generally on the third Thursday of each month at either 3:00 PM (November – March) or 5:00 PM (April – October). Other board meetings may be held such as public hearings, special meetings, and informational meetings. Please check the Events Calendar.
District meetings are held on the second floor conference room of the Wells Fargo Bank Building, 211 Holmes St. West, Detroit Lakes, MN unless otherwise noticed. Meetings may be held via Interactive Technology due to emergency or health pandemic conditions.
The District operations are guided by it’s watershed management plan which identifies and prioritizes goals, policies and actions to meet the water quality goals and objectives for the waters within our District. PRWD revised and adopted it’s current 10-year watershed management plan March 25, 2020 (RMP), the result of a multi-year planning process that included significant input from the District’s partners and residents. the RMP recognizes the challenges of water quality improvement in highly urbanized areas of the District; recommends and prioritizes actions for protection or improvement of water quality, water quantity, ecological integrity, and groundwater projects based on the District’s modeling and monitoring results; prioritizes District programs for improved watershed awareness; defines the respective roles and responsibilities between PRWD, local units of government and other organizations; and addresses emerging challenges posed by federal Clean Water Act requirements for impaired waters
Our program results are captured in the PRWD’s annual report, published each year to inform District residents and stakeholders about our activities.
The District finances the watershed management plan programs and projects with local funding, watershed-based funding implementation dollars, and collaboratively sought state, federal, and private grant dollars. In order to both serve the District as a whole and address specific issues, the District uses a variety of funding sources through Watershed District Law (MS 103D) and Drainage Law (MS 103E).
Programs and projects of district-wide benefit are generally funded through ad valorem levies. District projects or programs that are not of district-wide benefit may be paid for by a special assessment of the benefited properties, as determined by appraisers or viewers. As another funding mechanism, water management districts (WMD) may be established for the purpose of collecting revenues and paying costs of capital improvement projects (St. Clair Alum Treatment, Rice Lake Wetland Nutrient Reduction Project, regional storm water treatment ponds), storm water management facilities, and nutrient reduction programs. District funds
In addition to these District derived funding mechanisms, there are several funding sources available to the District from outside resources such as various federal, state, and local grants, Clean Water Partnership funds, MN Buffer Law Enforcement, and One Watershed One Plan implementation funds. The District may also receive direct legislative funding in the form of state bonding. Lastly, the District may choose to borrow funds to finance projects over a longer timeframe.
Early History – How the District was started
In 1965, both the Melissa and Sallie Improvement Association and the Lake Detroiters, advocated for a governmental unit that would be able to address lake problems. Dr. Tom Rogstad, President of Lake Detroiters, led a delegation, including Attorney Robert Irvine and Detroit Lakes City Engineer Winston Larson, to St. Paul to seek enabling legislation that would make it possible to create a local government unit for purposes of “finding causes and solutions for lake eutrophication problems”. They brought a draft bill to Senator Norman Walz of Detroit Lakes, but soon learned that a watershed district created under the auspices of the State’s 1955 Watershed Act, would serve the purpose if that Act was slightly amended to allow lakes and the lands that drained to them, to be defined as a watershed. The necessary amendments were enacted, and the PRWD was the first watershed district to organize under the amended law.
On September 15, 1965 a copy of a petition asking for the creation of the Pelican River Watershed District was filed with the Minnesota Water Resources Board. The petitioners, seeking to slow down the eutrophication of the lakes, among other purposes, were the Becker County Commissioners. After public meetings and discussion where local officials and the business community offered strong support, the petition was amended slightly and submitted by both the Becker and Otter Tail County Commissioners.
In March 30, 1966 the Water Resources Board held a hearing at the Becker County Courthouse. The Director’s report was presented and oral testimony on it and other matters was heard. At the May 27th meeting of the Water Resources Board, the Pelican River Watershed District, as previously defined and delimited by the Director, was ordered. The order specifically noted that addressing pollution would be central to the District’s mission. It also noted that navigation, soil erosion, and fish and wildlife enhancements, would be District purposes.
First Generation Plan. The District completed it’s first Watershed Management Plan in 1967. The plan focused on eutrophication of area lakes; obtaining data on the nature and causes of lake water quality problems. The District conducted several studies in the early years including evaluation of in-lake nutrient removal by aquatic plant harvesting (concluded ineffective and not feasible); District -wide monitoring studies; and MPCA Clean Lakes Diagnostic Studies for lakes Sallie and Detroit. IN the early 1970’s, the District negotiated the purchase of Dunton Park located on the east side of Lake Sallie. The District dredged the channels between Sallie and Melissa as well as the sandbar channel between Little and Big Detroit in 1981. Flowering rush was first identified in Curfman Lake in the early 1970s. The District continued harvesting Flowering rush on Detroit, Curfman, Sallie and Melissa.
Second Generation Plan. The District updated its Water Management Plan in 1994. The revised water management plan (RMP) was a major revision from the 1967 plan. The 1994 RMP was based upon the scientific knowledge gained from the past studies. The plan included the lake assessments, identified issues causing water quality problems and developed goals, strategies, and measures to address the problems. The plan was emended in 1997 primarily to incorporate ditch management (Becker County 11,12,13,14 drainage systems), water management districts, and procedures to establish a storm water utility. The District updated its water management Rules, adopted a permitting system, started a comprehensive monitoring program, and constructed several regional storm water treatment facilities in the City of Detroit Lakes. St. Clair Lake was treated with alum in 1999 to reduce phosphorus loading to downstream Lake Sallie. A study on Ditch 14 wetland was undertaken in the late 1990’s. The District continued to manage Flowering rush using mechanical harvesters. A comprehensive plan for the Campbell Creek/Floyd lake sub-watershed area was completed. Over 25 agricultural practices were installed along Campbell Creek in 2005. The District partnered with the DL High School Water Watch program.
Third Generation Plan. The 2005 Water Management Plan built on the previous plan, but added considerable implementation detail within each of the eight (8) Water Quality Planning Regions. Actions involved increased support for education (Water Festival, environmental education, Becker Coalition of Lake Associations, social media/website, classroom assistance); enhanced and targeted monitoring, shoreline and vegetation surveys; cost-share programs; streamlining permitting system. A MPCA Clean Water Partnership Diagnostic Study was completed on Pearl Lake in 2008. The District shifted from harvesting Flowering Rush to leading a major research effort towards control. In 2016, the District celebrated 50-years of water management and created a historical booklet PRWD 50 year Booklet 1966-2016
Fourth Generation Plan. On March 25, 2020, the District adopted it’s fourth water management plan. The current plan uses the Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR) One Watershed One Plan approach to watershed planning. An extensive process was completed to prioritize the order in which concerns should be addressed but also the types of actions to be considered and the needed resources. The plan establishes measurable goals to be achieved during the plan period.