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May 15

Know Your Nitrate Level?

Posted on May 15, 2017 at 3:46 PM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 5/15/2017


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:


·      May 16, 2017, County Board of Commissioners Meeting
JD38 (Shelby Twp.) 
We will be presenting a repair report on this system as it had a major blow out of a large tile connection leaving a very large crater.  This is just east of Amboy and not only an outlet for the city's storm sewer, but also for a large wetland that drains into this tile system.  Repairs will be costly due to its depth and size of pipe.

Annual Brush and Weed Control Contracts We will be presenting the Blue Earth County Board of Commissioners the proposed 2017 contracts for this annual maintenance.  The plan is to spray systems on the Eastern side of the county. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Project Updates


·         CD28 (Lincoln Twp.) The pipe boring crew has finished their first crossing under County Hwy. 30, and are now starting on their second crossing which is under County Hwy. 13.  This is the last of the borings needed for this project.  The underground pipe crew is working at the same time and is 300 feet east of County Hwy. 30, working easterly towards the open ditch.  Hopefully Mother-Nature can miss this area with heavy rains that are predicted for this week.cd28 borring hwy 30


·         CD86 (Beauford Twp.)  Crews have made great progress on this repair.  Last week not much was done as far as installing the new pipe, because of trying to dewater the existing pipe.  The crews needed to let the existing pipe empty out before trying to make any connections into our new pipe.  When connecting into existing lines full of water, it can be both very dangerous, as well as extremely challenging work conditions.


Drainage Minutes:


With planting season in full swing, things have been increasingly busy in the drainage office.  We have been receiving a high volume of phone calls reporting everything from small sink hole areas to large sloughing issues along open ditches.

We are working with multiple contractors pretty much year round.  We in the drainage office will coordinate with contractors to make sure these issues are fixed as quickly as possible.  Many of our contractors are very busy now this time of year with other large projects.  The earlier we get the reports of issues with a system, the quicker we can schedule the repairs with contractors.  As of today we are already booking repairs 1 – 2 weeks out.  I know this may cause some possible issues with planting season, but that is the busy nature of this business in the spring time.


Spraying for noxious weeds along open ditches should be starting the end of this week or next week.  This season, I will have crews primarily spraying along the easterly side of the county.  The crews will get the ditch systems that have buffers first and the others that don’t have buffer may need to wait until later in the year.  It’s a very tight window in between when the spray crews are ready and it's the right time to spray weeds and crop maturity.  The mixture of the three elements is sometimes a challenging thing to manage, but we will do our best to get things done and sprayed.

Anyone not wanting a certain portion of the open ditch sprayed along their property needs to contact us at the drainage office, 507-304-4264.  The crews will do their best not to damage any crops or other properties along the open ditch. 

Do you know this weed?  Looks very similar to a relatively new invasive species of noxious weed we have in Minnesota. Answer to be shared next week!

wild parsnip 2

Free Nitrate Screening


I found an article on the Ag Water Exchange website that spoke about Nitrate testing.  MAWRC (Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center) will be offering free nitrate screenings.  Simply collect 2-4 ounces of water sample from your tile outlet or source you want tested.  Taking multiple samples from different times of the year from the same source is recommended.

If these samples can’t be tested the same day, freeze them and bring them in.  MAWRC will have a booth at FarmFest this year where they will be analyzing samples on the spot with a 20 minute turnaround time for results.  For more information about this or other testing dates besides FarmFest click on the link.



Recent Drainage Inspections – week of May 8 – May 12:


·         JD11 (McPherson Twp.)  I had a contractor putting some final touches on storm damage repairs from last fall.  Some additional riprap and seeding was needed, but things look nice and should be finalized at this point.  See photo below.

·         JD01 (Sterling Twp.)  A grower call about an issue with a large sink hole in his field and issues of his intake backing up water.  After making a field visit, the sink hole was confirmed and a blockage in the pipe was to blame for the water backing up into the intake. 

·         CD86 (Beauford) / CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  Drop in visits on the construction projects to see what progress is being made.

·         JD36 (Butternut Valley Twp.)  Issues with multiple sink hole areas and blocked tile.

·         JD15 (Lincoln Twp.)  Issues with about 700 feet of old concrete tile almost completely plugged shut.  Repair of this line will be needed at some point this year.

·         CD25 (Decoria Twp.)  Final repairs are being finished up on this ditch system from storm damage from last September.  See photo:cd25 storm damage repair


Please call with issues you observe on our public drainage system, as there is a lot of open ditch and tile in our county and only two of us in the drainage department.  We will do our absolute best to service your issues and concerns as we receive them.


We require that all repairs to a county drainage system (tile or open ditch) be authorized by one us in the drainage office, either Craig or myself, before any repairs are made.





Ryan Hiniker

Drainage Management Specialist