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Jun 13

Sorting through updates on Buffer Law

Posted on June 13, 2017 at 10:08 AM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 6/12/2017


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:


No upcoming meetings or hearings scheduled at this time.



Project Updates:


·         CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  Pipe crew has been making slow but steady progress working through some very tough, wet and sloppy peat areas.  As of last Friday the pipe crew was within about 600 feet of their end connection to the open ditch.  The cd28 pipe installpipe crew can have this small amount done in just a few days, but also need the boring crew to get their new pipe installed under CSAH 13.  Tough soil conditions and rocks obstructing the boring alignment have made the boring crew’s job very difficult and drawn out.  The picture is of the pipe crew working.


·         CD86 (Beauford Twp.)  Not much of anything happened on this repair project site last week.  We had to get additional board approval for the additional pipe that needs to be repaired and its corresponding additional expense.  We did receive board approval and it was found to be in the ditch system's best interest to make the repairs to the system now while crews are doing the current repair work.  Just in the repairs the crews have already made, a significant difference can be seen by much drier conditions where muddy areas and ponding water were previously experienced.


·         CD56 (Garden City Twp.)  Tree removal crews should be finishing sometime this week with cutting the last few remaining large trees in the city limits of Lake Crystal. The general contractor will have to do some minor cleaning around three street crossings in Lake Crystal after the tree crews are done.  There will be some touching up of lawns and some reseeding to be done after the tree crews and general contractor are done.  I’m expecting the general contractor to start later this week or next week with the major out-of-town ditch cleaning and reshaping. 


Drainage Minutes / Buffer Talk:


I was fortune to be able to attend a BWSR (Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources) Buffer update meeting Friday, June 9.  This meeting was held at the Nicollet County Human Services Building (the brand new building next to the courthouse).  Tom Gile was the key speaker for the two-part meeting.  The morning session was geared around what the local SWCD and staff are expected to know and do with the first of two major buffer deadlines coming up in the near future. 

The SWCD’s are doing a very good job of staying informed of what the buffer law requirements will mean for their work loads and employees.  The SWCD’s will be doing much of the actual field work with meeting with landowners and marking out the buffer areas.  The county entities and watershed districts have to decide if they want to be the enforcement agency part of the new buffer law.  If county and watershed districts elect not to be the enforcement agency for the buffer law, then the state, BWSR, will step in and take control of enforcement of the buffer law and violations.

We at the county and watershed district level have a very short window to decide if that’s something that makes sense for our landowners.  BWSR has given us until June 28, 2017, to decide if we will or will not accept jurisdiction of the new buffer laws for public ditches and public waters.  BWSR has made it clear that if jurisdiction is accepted at county or watershed level, it’s all or nothing.  We can’t take on responsibility for just the ditches or just the public waters. 

The newly-enacted waiver period was also discussed.  Waivers can only be obtained from your local SWCD or controlling watershed district for extensions to the Minnesota Public Waters or shoreland buffers.  Waivers need to be requested with a clear plan of action by November 1, 2017. After the November 1, 2017, deadline non-compliant land without the waiver will be considered a violation to the buffer areas on public waters and shoreline.  I would highly recommend that those landowners or individuals that will be affected by this upcoming Public Waters and shoreland deadline get into their SWCD sooner than later.  I imagine there will be a fair amount of parcels and landowners looking for a waiver so don’t wait until last minute.

The waiver is good until July 1, 2018, at which point the buffers need to installed and verified as compliant by a SWCD or watershed staff member.

To summarize all of this information: Public Waters and shoreland buffers still have a deadline of November 1, 2017. With an approved waiver, the deadline becomes July 1, 2018.  If no waiver is approved, the November 1, 2017, deadline still applies to the Public Waters and shoreland buffers. 

November 1, 2018, is still the public drainage / public ditches buffer deadline.  No extension is provided by law for the ditches deadline, and I don’t expect one.  
BWSR is hoping that the counties and local watershed districts will adopt the jurisdiction for these buffer laws.
  BWSR knows that we already have relationships built with many landowners and it would be more comfortable working with us versus a state agency from out of town. 

The law has been in effect since 2015, so I don’t think any more extensions will be given beyond this current extension.  For landowners that have questions about these buffers - both Public Water and Public Drainage - please contact your local SWCD or us at the Blue Earth County drainage office.  We at the drainage office won’t be the experts on the programs that the SWCD’s offer, but we can answer many of the main questions associated with these pending buffer deadlines.




Recent Drainage Inspections – week of June 5 – June 9:


·         CD50 (Lincoln Twp.)  Two different areas of sink holes.  Old concrete tile that has pulled apart at the seams or partially collapsed.  Usually a quick and inexpensive fix.

·         CD36 (Butternut Valley Twp.)  Issues with multiple sink holes along a minimum maintence road near our county tile.  Contractor found old intake that wasn’t properly capped when it got buried.

·         JD38 (Shelby Twp.)  Monitoring water levels in an ongoing area of repair.  This is the major blowout area from about a month ago.  We are letting the water levels drop to more manageable levels before we can make repairs.

·         CD56 (Garden City Twp.)  Monitoring the tree clearing and ditch cleaning crews on this ongoing repair project that has been going on for the better part of a month now.

·         CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  Monitoring progress of the pipe install crews and always changing working conditions.

·         CD34 (Judson Twp.)  Inspected our new concrete notch weir.  The weir will help control water flow to downstream landowners and help to slow water down letting more sediment settle out of the water.  Pictured is the new concrete weir.CD34 new notch weir



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