High Water Table Threatening Self-Storage Facility in Brainerd, MN

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A stormwater study conducted for the city of Baxter, Minn., has revealed that the elevation of a Johnson’s Mini-Storage facility is only slightly higher than a nearby wetland. The area studied was just West of Edgewood Drive, with the wetland sitting between Woida Road and Novotny Road. The self-storage facility is at 15237 Edgewood Drive in Brainerd, Minn., where water is encroaching on the gravel drives surrounding the units and high ground-water elevation problems are causing moisture issues, according to the source.

Stormwater west of Highway 371 was thought to flow westerly, but it is trickling east through Brainerd to Gilbert Lake, the source reported. The self-storage facility is just west of the highway and southwest from the lake. Due to spring and summer rains, groundwater is sitting just below the surface, and the stormwater study showed the edge of the wetland is about 10 feet from the storage facility’s gravel drives.

The wetland was previously altered when roads were built and the wetland was filled, according to the source. The study found that a high point in a ditch was impeding water flow, causing overflow to move north and east. It also revealed an existing ditch system that used to move water through Brainerd into the lake, but the county had no record of it, according to the source.

A beaver dam is also blocking water flow and keeping levels high, according to the study.

The most cost-effective solution appears to be lowering the ditch by excavating a foot of dirt and removing the beaver dam. The ditch cleaning would enable the water to flow back into the watershed and cost about $8,300, according to Kevin Wernberg, an engineer and office manager for Widseth Smith Nolting, the engineering firm that conducted the stormwater study.

Another option would be to build a control structure and pipe or ditch system at the south end of the wetland by Johnson’s Mini-Storage that would discharge water into the wetland on the north side of Woida Road. However, a pipe system would cost around $98,000, and a ditch system was estimated to cost more than $200,000, according to the source.

Baxter city officials are considering their options and may require involvement from Brainerd and the state, the source reported.

Johnson’s Mini-Storage operates five self-storage facilities in Minnesota.

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