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Apr 16

Think Spring

Posted on April 16, 2018 at 6:08 PM by Ryan Hiniker


Drainage update 4/16/2018



Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:


·         We have an upcoming buffer meeting in Faribault County to discuss how we (in the drainage business) are going to be handling some of the upcoming issues with the 103F buffers coming due this November 1, 2018.  This is intended for Drainage Authorities, SWCD’s and planning and zoning staff.  I’ll give highlights from that meeting in upcoming blogs.


Project Updates:


  • No projects going at this time.  We still have a couple contractors trying to do repair and brush maintence on some our systems.  The foot of snow will not help get our list of things done for spring 2018.


Drainage Update:

It’s hard to think about spring and summer as we currently sit with 11 inches of snow on many of our lawns.  Spring and summer will eventually get here and with it comes maintence of our open ditch systems.  Part of this maintenance, much like doing repairs, is the weed and brush maintenance.  I have spoken in the past about how we hire a contractor to do our weed and brush spraying.

I just wanted to write this as a friendly refresher to all those who live on or near any of our open ditch drainage systems.  We have a statutory obligation to make sure our ditch banks and 103E buffer areas are kept free from noxious weeds and brush.  For our friends that are in agricultural, they know first hand how challenging controlling weeds can be.  Controlling tough and sometimes resistant weed species in waterway areas is even more challenging.

The challenge comes from the fact we have a very short list of chemicals that are approved to be sprayed near water.  As a good steward of the land, we want to make sure we are making responsible choices when it comes to herbicide use and its possible effects to the adjoining ecosystems of our streams, rivers and lakes.  We have enough challenges with our water quality in our lakes and rivers across the state without adding anymore to them. 

We have a three-zone system that we have split the county into.  The split zone system will help control costs and give a more even rotation to when and what ditch systems are getting sprayed.  Some systems may need a more intensive year-after-year treatment to get weeds and brush under manageable control.  Do I expect that our ditches are going to be completely weed and brush free? No, I know that’s not totally realistic, but I do expect that things can always be improved and I will work hard to make sure that weeds and brush are controlled.

We may be mixing things up this year, with the contractors who are doing our spraying and some of the equipment being used.  Typically, the contractors have been using ATV’s with boomless sprayers.  These boomless sprayers, as they are called, are just one spray bar (tub) with multiple spray nozzles that spray in multiple directions.  This system is good in certain situations, but not a one-size-fits-all.  One of the issues with spraying ditches is we need equipment that will reach the weeds and brush growing over the side of the ditch bank.  I have meet with a different contractor this year who is equipped with a pull behind sprayer with a boom that we can hang out over the ditch bank, but still control it from spraying directly into the water area. 
fold out sprayer 2atv sprayer2

Pictures of larger scale pull behind boom sprayer and smaller ATV mounted boomless sprayer

We use only herbicides that are aquatically labeled to be sprayed near water.  Our contractors all have up-to-date licenses for commercial applications and insurance.  Although the individual applicator who sprays the herbicide is ultimately responsible, we (drainage authority) still like to be involved in making best management practices. 

We have in the past had people or landowners that don’t want their areas of ditch sprayed.  We (the drainage authority) are fine with that decision and respect the individual’s decisions.  The landowners that don’t want us to spray along the open ditch areas are then responsible for spraying and maintaining these weeds and brush on their own land.  If the individual landowners do not keep up with the weeds and brush, we will step in and have the area sprayed for our maintence purposes under Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 103E.

Most of the time people ask us not to spray is because of haying and pasture reasons.  The list of chemicals we use are usually quite safe for haying and pasture when the labels are followed.  If you are or know of someone who does not want us to spray the buffer and open ditch area along one of our public drainage systems, please click the link below to email me.



Recent Drainage Inspections – week of April 9 – April 13:

·         JD39 (Sterling Twp.) We had a contractor that was out replacing some dual wall 8-inch plastic tile for us last week.  To our surprise, little to no frost was left in the ground and digging went well despite the extremely muddy conditions.  Mud is just part of spring repairs in Minnesota.

·         CD50 (Butternut Valley Twp.)  Last week’s weather didn’t help our tree removal efforts.  Soft side banks and slippery conditions make for a challenging situation from the cab of their large equipment.

·         CD86 (Beauford Twp.)  I have been monitoring rising water levels on this open ditch system as the four remaining beaver dams are causing ongoing issues.  The weather has been less than cooperative for getting the beavers removed as well as their structures.


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