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Aug 21

Nitrate Transportation Line

Posted on August 21, 2017 at 3:04 PM by Ryan Hiniker




Drainage update 8/14/2017


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:


State Water Quality Town Hall

Thursday, August 17, 2017

See below for more details.


Project Updates:



·         CD56 (Garden City Twp.)  Tree and brush removal slowed down last week, but crews stayed busy with other tasks along the open ditch.  The open ditch cleaning was still going on last week with the crew up to about the Lincoln Township Road 499th Avenue crossing.  This crossing will be getting a new culvert installed - a 66 inch RCP (reinforced concrete pipe) that will replace the current metal pipe.  Crews that were not removing trees and brush stayed busy with installing WASCOB’s (water and sediment control basins) and repairing tile outlet pipes to the open ditch.  Some seeding of the buffer area has occurred, mostly in the first mile and a half south of the city of Lake Crystal.  There still is some clean-up work needed in most areas and possibly some more tree removal in town (Lake Crystal).  


·         JD09 (LeRay Twp.)  This project is not formally going yet, but the improvement project for this system is open for public bidding.  For more details contact, Kyle Sammons at ISG 507-387-6651.


·         JD34 (LeRay Twp.)  This improvement project will be up for public bid yet this week as I’m told, so also look for that.  For more details, contact Kyle Sammons at ISG 507-387-6651.



25 BY 25:


Just a quick update for those that are planning on attending this water quality workshop put on by the state of Minnesota.  I mentioned a couple weeks ago that the date for this meeting was Wednesday August 16, from 6:30 – 8:30.  Location is the Centennial Student Union at Minnesota State University Mankato.


Tile and Nitrates:


Many areas of southern Minnesota have tile in their agricultural production fields.  Even many towns and cities utilize public ditch systems for their storm sewer outlets.  Many times this water is brought into the drainage system completely untreated.  I have seen many studies showing that agricultural drainage and public utility drainage both bring their fair share of unwanted nutrients and sediment into lakes and public ditch systems. Locally water quality issues are a big concern with Crystal Lake located in Lake Crystal and most recently there is a lot of attention being given to the deteriorating water quality of Lake Washington in LeSueur County.

I bring these subjects up because I was reading an interesting article on Nitrogen and tile, with tile being a major transportation route for Nitrate Nitrogen.  Nitrogen has multiple forms.  The forms that are readily plant food available are the ones that are most susceptible to moving with the movement of water.  Nitrate Nitrogen is the big concern for water quality.  Nitrate is most susceptible to moving because it possess negatively charged ions that attach themselves to positively charged water molecules.

For Minnesotans that farm, tile is a common part of the farm, just like any other piece of machinery.  Tile has become very beneficial to farming practices as it allows us in the upper midwest to be able to plant earlier and farm areas we couldn’t without drainage.  It has also allowed us to plant later maturity varieties of corn and soybeans.  The bad part of all the tile is the Nitrates that move with the water in the tile.  Tile carries almost four times more Nitrates than surface runoff.  For every one inch of water in tile flow, five pounds per acre of Nitrogen is lost.

I’ve wrote about cover crops in the past and other BMP’s (best management practices).  BMP’s have been gaining popularity quickly.  We, in Blue Earth County Drainage, are always looking for new innovative ways to ensure water quality.  We work with an engineering firm that also has a common value for water quality.  Every time we have an improvement or repair project that involves engineering, we try to encourage BMP’s into the repair or improvement project.  We have been very successful in the last couple years getting the general public to participate in involving BMP’s in Public Drainage.  Many times we are able to get some sort of outside funding whether it be grant money or help from our local friends at our SWCD office.  We have a few projects happening just this year that are looking at the possibility of adding woodchip bioreactors as well as water storage areas to aid in cleaning up sediment and nutrients in the water. 

Buffers, wetlands, woodchip bioreactors, and now metal byproduct bioreactors for filtering Phosphorus out of tile water, are all tools for making a change in water quality.  Currently on a project on CD56, near Lake Crystal, we are installing 12 WASCOB’s and other alternative intake areas along the open ditch.  Much of the funding for this is coming from programs with the help of our local SWCD.  This is one of the projects that may also include installation of a woodchip bioreactor and some off channel storage of water.  Photos below are examples of different water quality BMP’s we’ve installed.

This was a very interesting quick-read article from Ag Water Exchange.  Ag Water Exchange has many interesting articles and ideas.  Click on link to read the full article or to browse other interesting articles.

 inchannel stor 2inchannel stor 1 cd57 holding pond 2
The first two pictures show in-channel storage examples.  The third photo is the off-channel storage on CD57.



Recent Drainage Inspections – week of August 7 – August 11:


·         CD56 (Garden City & Lincoln Twp.) I like to randomly stop by the active construction site a few times a week to keep up with progress and also to address concerns on the site.


·         JD38 (Shelby Twp.)  Checked in on the newly installed outlet structure to the  wetland.  We added a few additional “weep holes” to the new intake structure.


·         CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  Very little remains with this project, as far as things to finish.  We still have to install a concrete weir structure on the southerly end of the open ditch and do some final hydro seeding of the open ditch banks.  We’re getting closer all the time to finishing this project up.  We also still need to televise the new tile line before signing off on this project.



·         JD45 (Mapleton Twp.)  Still waiting on parts and pieces to get this repair project closed up.  



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