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May 14

Storm Water Science

Posted on May 14, 2018 at 5:09 PM by Ryan Hiniker


Drainage update 5/14/2018



Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

·         No upcoming meeting or hearings are scheduled at this time.


Project Updates:


  • We currently have six different contractors doing work all over the county on different drainage systems. 
  • JD34 (Le Ray Twp.) We started out with a fairly good jump start on continuing this improvement project from last year. Last week and this week won’t be too productive for getting more tile installed, though.  The recent rains have really slowed all of our drainage repairs and projects - down to a standstill almost.  Pictured below is JD34 new drop intake being installed.jd34


  • JD09 (Le Ray Twp.)  This improvement project is set to start in just a few short weeks with a June 1, 2018, start date.  Construction easement areas have been staked, so growers should know where to plant and where to stay out of.


Storm Water Research:

For years now, many SWCD’s and clean water groups have been conducting small scale research to remove sediment and nutrients from lake water, ditch system water, and storm waters.   These small-scale studies have opened the gateway for large scale studies the University of Minnesota has been conducting, with some really eye-opening results.

The U of M (University of Minnesota) conducted two separate experiments.   One experiment was to find which metals are better at attracting water soluble phosphorus in enhanced sand filters.  The other experiment was then measuring the results of phosphorus reduction in these enhanced sand filters.  In their iron/sand filters, they actually add very small pieces of iron metal to the sand to attract the water soluble phosphorus.  The initial $70,000 funding for these experiments will be wrapping up at the end of 2018.  There is however an additional $1.5 million already in place for ongoing research and technology for the next two years.  The researchers from the U of M are planning on issuing some findings from their studies and calling it the research roadmap for storm water in Minnesota.

These experiments are going beyond just the normal sediment and nutrient studies.  Sure, there is an extreme need for more studies on nutrients, but a new focus is now also being aimed at chloride.  Chloride is a water quality killer that has been silently building up for decades.  Much of our issues with chloride stem from all of the road salt that we use every winter to keep our roads ice free.  Water softeners also play a role in polluting our waters.  The issue of chloride pollution is of course related to the salt component.  One spoonful of salt can adversely affect 5 gallons of water.  The good thing about all of this information is we are learning quickly what the issues are and quickly figuring out new ways to treat the water for healthier, cleaner water for our future.

This was an article that I came across on the BWSR website (Board of Water and Soil Resources).  We locally plan on trying multiple locations of smaller scale experiments for reducing phosphorus levels in water.  I will keep you posted as to more specifics of this when it happens - hopefully later this year - on two separate ditch systems.  For more reading on this subject for yourself, click the link. enhanced sand filter

 Picture is an example of this sand filter.  Picture referenced from University of Minnesota storm water study.



Recent Drainage Inspections – week of May 7 – May 11:

·         JD36 (Butternut Valley & Cambria Twp.)  We have multiple locations on the tile portion of this system that have on-going issues with collapsing old tile.  We also had issues with multiple beaver dams on the open ditch area.  The beaver dams have been removed as of last week.

·         JD09 (Sterling Twp.)  Our issue with the plugged tile and bubbling intake will have to wait - probably another week.  The Mapleton area last week saw over two inches of rain in some areas.

·         CD50 & CD27 (Judson & Butternut Valley Twps.)  We actually have two contractors working at the same time on these systems.  One contractor is finishing up with grinding and removing the trees and shrubs, while the other contractor is cleaning sediment out of the open ditch.

·         CD56 (Lincoln & Garden City Twps.)  Inspected more areas of sink holes and collapsed old tile.

·         CD35 (Mapleton Twp.)  Our contractor started last week moving in large quantities of large rip rap rock.  This rock, along with reshaping the ditch bank, will hopefully fix some of our sloughing issues along a couple stretches of this open ditch portion.

·         CD93 (Decoria Twp.)  The contractor has finished with cleaning the sediment out of the open ditch and most of the spoil piles have been leveled.   We did have the contractor install two new ASI’s or alternative side intakes.  I will try to get pictures of them, but it involved quite a bit of reshaping and making large berms around new intakes to the open ditch.

·         We have had a huge volume of calls lately about collapsed tile issues or open ditch issues.  We are trying to handle all calls or reports as quickly as we can.  Please remember that we do not guarantee same day service.  We need to verify that the issue is in fact over a county tile line before issuing the repair be made.  It may take us a few days to get out to the site to visit in-field before ordering a repair be made.  A friendly reminder as many people are busy trying to get crops in, if there is an issue with a county tile and we are not notified about it before the repairs are made, we reserve the right to deny payment.   

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