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Feb 12

Heavy Costs

Posted on February 12, 2018 at 7:57 PM by Ryan Hiniker


Drainage update 2/12/2018



Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

·         10th Annual Nutrient Management Conference.  Tuesday, February 20, 2018, at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.  Click here for more information on this conference. 

·         Drainage and Water Conference hosted by Rinke Noonan law offices.  This conference is hosted in St. Cloud and hosted by Rinke Noonan annually.  The conference is designed more for drainage authorities, watershed districts and other drainage/water related professionals.


Project Updates:


  • No project updates at this time.  All projects are shut down for the winter season.  Spring will be a very busy time for drainage as we will have two, possible three, major projects going next spring. 


Drainage Minutes:

I came across an interesting article last week talking about water quality and the cost of doing business. 

The article spoke about water quality and tighter restrictions coming down from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency).  Locally, our Mankato wastewater treatment plant is facing some possible new restrictions for levels of pollutants allowable to be discharged into the Minnesota River.  Mankato’s previous permit from MPCA has expired and they are now faced with the choice of tighter and much more expensive restrictions or dispute the matter in a legal battle. 

Mankato, along with 42 other towns and communities along the Minnesota River basin, tried to fight and argue their point to the MPCA, with no leeway given by the MPCA about the tighter pollution standards being proposed.  Many of the cities including Mankato argued that the major issues of water quality in our local rivers are from non-point-source pollution. Non-point source pollution includes things like erosion of stream and river banks, and over-land flow of water runoff.

Mankato may be able to meet the new standards, but many other communities may not be able to.  Even if Mankato is able to meet the standards, at what price do the new mandates come at from a taxpayer standpoint?  At an estimate of possibly over $100 million of costs for updates to surrounding communities’ treatment facilities, it’s a very heavy burden for communities to turn around and ask of their taxpayers.

The City of Mankato has a 60-day window to decide what they are going to do: either conform with the new tighter restrictions or fight it through a lawsuit process.  Either decision may turn out to be costly.

The feelings expressed in the article talk about how the $100 million cost to upgrade cities' treatment facilities could be better spent on agricultural water quality practices to reduce phosphorus and sediment.  The MPCA has no jurisdiction over agricultural practices, but it does over city utilities.  This is going to be a real issue for many smaller communities that can’t necessarily afford the huge cost of conforming to new standards. 

I remember this subject coming up when I attended the Governor's 25 by 25 town hall meeting in Mankato.  In one of our small group break-out sessions, we discussed the concern for small communities trying to figure out how to pay for multi-million-dollar upgrades to aging water treatment facilities.  The cost of keeping drinking water safe along with waste water upgrades is a very real concern for rural communities of Minnesota.  

For more reading on this article click on the following link.


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


  • CD41 & JD32 (Vernon Center & Pleasant Mound Townships) I met with a newer contractor to review and look at possible ditch cleanings for these two systems.  The plan is to have them cleaned after the ice thaws and be done before planting season.

fishingI had another tough day at my weekend office.


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