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Oct 09

Urban Sprawl and Farm Lands

Posted on October 9, 2017 at 5:26 PM by Ryan Hiniker


Drainage update 10/09/2017


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

No upcoming meetings or hearings.


Project Updates


  • CD56 & CD56 branch 20 (Garden City Twp & Lincoln Twp.)  Both of these repair projects are currently at a standstill due to the two plus inches of rain we received in the last week.  We need some sun and warm weather to finish these two repair projects.

Urban Sprawl and Sediment Issues:

I recently read a few interesting articles on sediment and nutrient issues in urban areas.  The two articles I read were very local and spoke about issues the City of Mankato is having with the additional nutrients they are finding in drinking water sources. 

It’s no secret that we have issues with the quality of water in our lakes and rivers in southern Minnesota.  As the borders between town and farm seem to shrink, the issues of sediment and water quality seem to increase, according to articles and others studies. 

The City of Mankato plans on asking the state for $7 million in bonding money for water quality improvements.  Much of that money is planned to go towards wetland restoration projects for the southern part of Mankato.  These wetlands are an attempt to slow the flow of storm water and give the wetlands time to filter the sediment and nutrients out.  Mankato is dealing with increasing issues of phosphorus and nitrates, not to mention hundreds of thousands dollars in recent history spent on sediment clean out of storm surge ponds. 

There is some push back from the state - especially from one state representative, Rick Hansen, from the St. Paul area.  He believes that if they help fund Mankato with their water quality problems, that the state would never be able to say no to anyone asking for funding with their water problems.  Representative Hansen believes in a “polluter pay” model.  He believes there should be taxes placed on fertilizer to cover the bonding costs for these water quality issues around the state.  Some lawmakers feel it is the farmer's responsibility to pay for the tax on fertilizer because they’re the ones using it.    

Locally in Blue Earth County, we are working with the cities in our county and we all have been doing a fairly good job with water quality improvement.  Sure, there’s room for improvement, but as technology progresses and also the awareness of just how fragile our waters are in Minnesota, things should improve. 

It’s easy to point the finger and blame one side or the other whether it be the urban influences or the farm.  Many studies have shown that there are many nutrients and pollutants that make their way from city storm drains.  In town, we fertilizer our lawns, ball fields and use lots of salt and ice melts during the winter. So, to say it’s just a farm runoff issue is not totally fair. 

The farm and urban communities can work together to solve the water quality issues at hand.  One good example of such cooperation between city and farm is the Crystal Watershed Project in Lake Crystal. 

For more information on these articles, click on the links: Minnesota River health, MPR, KEYC Water Quality Bond Request.


Recent Drainage Inspections – week of October 2 – October 6:


  • CD56 (Garden City& Lincoln Twp.) Not much work was done last week because of heavy rains.
  • CD56 Branch 20 (Lincoln Twp.) Contractor has finished the new 18-inch HDPE tile line and started with making connections to two drop intakes.  The contractor is also working on removing the old HDPE line to prevent future sink holes along that failed line.
  • CD86 (Decoria Twp.)  Monitoring the water level in the open ditch along county road 16, where we still have a nuisance beaver and dam issue.
  • CD97 (Garden City Twp.)  We had issues with three beaver dams being built on this open ditch system.  Multiple beavers were removed from a very small section of open ditch.  Hopefully all of the beavers are gone so we can make repairs to the open ditch and remove the dams that are currently holding back a fair amount of water.


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