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Nov 06

How a Local Project is an Industry Example

Posted on November 6, 2017 at 6:10 PM by Ryan Hiniker


Drainage update 11/6/2017


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

No upcoming meetings or hearings.

Project Updates

  • CD56 (Garden City Twp & Lincoln Twp.)  We do have a few tile outlets to fix near the southern end of the open ditch system.  This repair project should be completely done very soon.
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  Equipment showed up last week to finish some final punch-list type items.  The crews have to install a concrete weir and make a few final tile connections.  The rest of the work is cleanup stuff from the project earlier in the year.
  • CD12 (Mankato Twp.)  The contractor started last week with the open ditch cleaning for this project.  Years of sediment build-up was taken out, as evident by the large piles if you drive by the site.

Local River Threats:

I recently finished reading a couple articles discussing drainage and local ongoing issues.  Since the 1970’s, more than $1 billion has been contributed to the Minnesota River for improving the 330 plus miles of river - to clean up the sediment and address nitrate issues.  Much of that sediment and nitrates is picked up from the millions of agricultural acres that drain into the Minnesota River, which then eventually empties to the Mississippi and makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Minnesota is well known for monitoring and tracking water quality, as water is one of our greatest assets.  The problem isn’t a city / farm issue alone.  Many cities and large manufacturers have made changes to how they handle their wastewater.  Just as many farmers rely on precision agriculture to use less fertilizer and less herbicides/insecticides to grow their crops.  Over the years, our per gallon contaminants in the Minnesota River have gone down, but the levels of contaminants haven’t really dropped.  How is this possible one would ask.  It's due to large volumes of water reaching the river systems more quickly after major rain events.

Locally in Mankato, drinking water issues have been an ongoing issue. Removing nitrates and phosphorus from the water we drink continue to be a large expense.  The days of pointing fingers are over and we are working on solutions and cooperation. 

We don’t have all the natural aquifers, swamps, and lakes like we used to have.  Those swamps and lakes acted as a natural filter removing some of the contaminants before traveling through the soil profile to the ground water sources.  One of the best ways to help prevent erosion issues from peak flows, and to also reduce sediment and containments, is to store water. 

The article I read touched on how locally (in the Mapleton area) we have made some cutting-edge changes in the world of drainage and water management.  Blue Earth County CD57 is an industry leader in respects to the new technologies used for water storage, reducing peak flood flows, and managing downstream impacts to additional landowners.  It’s no secret that the increase of private tiling has impacted our streams, rivers, and lakes.  We have local tools and industry leaders to work with to hopefully resolve some of these ongoing issues with water quality.

Some fun facts from the MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency):

·         73% of nitrate pollution comes from agricultural drainage systems.

·         9% of nitrates from wastewater treatment.

·         9% of nitrates from atmospheric conditions.

·         2% of nitrates from septic systems.

·         1% from urban runoff.


I know that local studies can give some different numbers, and I’ve seen studies that support urban runoff contributes much more than 1%.  The point is we know the reasons for the issues and we need to address how to fix it - by creating storage points for water to filter itself out before flowing downstream and having a greater chance of making its way to our drinking water supplies. 

Some good reading in our local Mankato Free Press. Click on links for more info:

Recent Drainage Inspections – week of October 30 – November 3:      

  • JD09 (Cambria Twp.)  I inspected a report of a beaver dam issue.
  • CD36 (Butternut Valley Twp.) Open ditch slough issues.
  • CD86 (Decoria Twp.)  Contractor started open ditch cleaning work.  Cleaning has made substantial improvements, including drastically dropping the standing water level of the ditch.  Check out the before and after photos of cleaning out the ditch. cd86 cleaning photo 1cd86 cleaning photo


  • CD12 (Mankato Twp.)  Our open ditch cleaning project started last week.  New crossings should start being installed sometime later this week or first part of next week.  Amazing how different this system looks after multiple feet of sediment was removed and widened to original capacity.


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