View All Posts

Apr 02

Dirty Little Secret?

Posted on April 2, 2018 at 5:05 PM by Ryan Hiniker

 Drainage update 4/2/2018



Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:


·         JD01 Far. (Sterling Twp.)  We will be having a repair meeting with affected landowners of this system to discuss future repairs and current concerns with the system.  Wednesday, April 4 is the chosen date for the meeting, specific details of times and locations should have been included in the notices sent to affected landowners. 

·         CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  We will be having a landowner meeting to discuss a repair petition for repair work to a portion of tile in this system.  This landowner meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 4.  Affected landowners should have received notice of specific details of location and time for meeting.  Please call with questions or concerns.


Project Updates:


  • No official project updates, but we do have contractors trying to get out and get some work done on our drainage systems.  We should have a contractor out cutting and removing trees in a buffer area along CD27 and CD50 near Lake Crystal.  Hopefully the road weight restrictions should be coming off sometime soon because we are hoping to get a bunch of ditch repairs done before planting season.


Drainage Update:

This cold wintery weather that never seems to end this year is going to make things very difficult for getting repairs done to our public drainage systems this spring in time before spring planting.  We are battling mother nature, spring thawing conditions and road weight restrictions all at the same time.  Not a winning combination when you have long list of repairs to make on multiple systems across the county.


Phosphorus, a Dirty Little Secret:

For years - and even decades - Nitrogen has been to blame for why our water bodies are turning greener and greener with algae blooms.  After reading the article summarized below and attending some seminars about this same subject, Nitrogen may be getting a bad reputation for the algae issues.  Our water will always have some degree of Nitrogen issues as long as there is Blue Green Algae blooms.  Many species of Blue Green Algae can fix their own nitrogen needs from the atmospheric nitrogen that dissolves naturally in our waters.

This finding is because of an almost 50-year-old scientific “whole lake” study performed in Canada.  This study purposely took an entire lake, its own ecosystem, and performed decades of tests purposely loading it with sediment.  Phosphorus, carbon and nitrogen were added in varying amounts and times to test the theories on algae blooms.

Scientists have slowly backed off of adding nitrogen and added more phosphorus in its place.  For a 20 plus year stretch, scientists added zero artificial nitrogen and still saw record algae blooms.  The true culprit for algae blooms wasn’t nitrogen all along, but phosphorus instead. 

The article goes on to explain for those groups or government agencies that may have limited resources, it is best to concentrate on the removal of phosphorus from our waters.  Phosphorus is the driving source for why our algae blooms are getting out of control.  These algae blooms can have deadly effects on humans, dogs, fish and many other creatures.  These algae blooms can choke out oxygen supplies from water creating “dead zones”.   If severe enough, the algae blooms can affect our drinking water supplies.

This was a very interesting article to read, and it is very thought provoking.  Have we been chasing after and pointing fingers at the wrong thing all along?  After attending multiple seminars and now reading this article and a few more, I’m starting to believe we need to start changing our sight towards phosphorus also.  To read this article or more like it in depth, please click to learn more.



Recent Drainage Inspections – weeks of March 26 – March 30:


  • CD12 (Mankato Twp.)  Monitoring water levels as things are thawing out rapidly.  Some touch up cleaning will be necessary for this open ditch cleaning project.
  • CD35 (Mapleton Twp.)  Monitoring repairs from last fall with the high-water levels of this spring's thawing.
  • CD93 (Decoria Twp.)  Monitoring ongoing issues with side bank sloughs and hoping to finish sediment cleaning of the open ditch.
  • CD86 (Decoria Twp.)  We discovered four more beaver structures near the outlet of this open ditch system.  These four beaver structures are holding back a large amount of water in the bottom end of the open ditch, almost five feet of water in some areas.  We will be removing the beaver from this area and then the structures they built.  We will have a contractor removing trees and brush from along the bottom portion of the open ditch as well. This is to make maintence and cleanings easier, as well as hopefully discourage the beavers from building again.
  • CD25 (Decoria Twp.)  We had two larger slough repairs from last year that I’ve been monitoring.  The slough repairs and toe drains seem to be in good shape, but the grass seeding never took.  We will have to do some hydroseeding this spring to make sure that we have grasses growing on the ditch bank.
  • JD38 (Sterling Twp.)  I stopped by to monitor how our repair from last spring is handling the spring thawing and extra water from a nearby wetland that also feeds water into this tile system.  Check out the before and after photos shown below.

JD38 22JD38 11JD38 01

1) Broken sink hole           2) The repair                          3) The repair in action

This will be a busy spring again - maybe not as intense as last spring. Still, we will have multiple repair projects and improvements going on at the same time again.

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