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Posted on June 11, 2018 at 5:26 PM by Ryan Hiniker
Drainage update 6/11/2018
Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:
hearings or meetings at this time.
Groundwater Protection Rule:
Department of Agriculture, or MDA, has formally published their Groundwater
Protection Rule, formerly known as the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule. On April 30, 2018 this new rule was
officially added to the Minnesota State Register. Following this April 30 date, is also a 80-day comment period.
period is critical to those who are affected by this proposed rule change. Many agricultural groups throughout the state
are watching this rule change very closely, and many are voicing their opinions
as a group to the Governor. This comment
period is open to the public, not just farmers or agriculture-related
professionals. The driving force behind
this rule change is the rising levels of nitrates being found in many drinking
water systems and wells throughout the state.
Groundwater Protection Rule is very lengthy and wordy. I was fortunate to hear about this project at
its early stages when it was proposed to be introduced as a Nitrogen
Fertilizer Rule. I was attending a
meeting in Mankato where the MDA was one of the guest speakers and discussed
the possibilities of this new rule. Anyone
who knows me knows I’m not afraid to comment or ask questions. My concerns and questions focused around the industry and how did they (MDA) propose the agricultural retailers and co-ops handle
the additional issues of shorter timeframe for fertilizer season, but most of
all the logistics of storing and handling such a short window to get all acres
covered. My concerns and questions were
very similar to many others in the room and also to other groups that the MDA
had spoken to about this.
I’m not going
to go into great depth about the rules and regulations of this new Groundwater
Protection Rule, but I will give highlights. The MDA has been conducting years and years of studies about the
increasing issues with nitrates in Minnesota drinking waters. Part of their studies show that the areas
with the biggest issues are also some of the same areas with lighter more vulnerable
soils that are more prone to nitrogen leaching and mobility.
These areas for the most part are lighter, sandy, rocky soils or also areas with a high water table. The MDA is looking to restrict fall
applications of nitrogen to coarse soils.
Many of these
areas with coarse soils have started switching from liquid nitrogen sources,
NH3 (anhydrous) to more stable sources of nitrogen, like urea with nitrogen
stabilizer added. Nitrogen is one of the
more expensive fertilizer inputs on the farm each year, so many growers know
better than to waste it or use inefficient methods.
The article I
was reading about this topic was good in realizing that as fellow Minnesotans, let's collectively figure a solution instead of pointing a finger. Agriculture is not the only industry to blame
when it comes to issues with drinking water.
I think we often forget about our own household chemicals we throw down
the drain that we think are magically gone.
Other large industries also contribute to water quality issues. This is just another step in Minnesota’s commitment
to cleaning up waters, both drinking waters and recreational. The comment period doesn’t have a lot of time
left, so those who want their voice to be heard should consider making it heard
soon. If you're looking for more reading on this subject
just click. Below is an example of a commercial fertilizer spreader.
Recent Drainage Inspections – week of June 4 – June 8:
JD09 FAR (Sterling
Twp.) One of our contractors made repairs to a plugged
portion of county tile that went under a township road. The old clay tile partially collapsed and was
causing issues with overland flooding.
Twp.) Major slough repairs have been made and are holding
up well against the heavy rains lately.
We also have a large sink hole that is on a portion of old tile near one
the new solar farms.
JD07 WAT (Lincoln
Twp.) Still waiting to televise two portions of this system. As to be expected, water levels in the tile are
still much to full to do any televising.
Twp.) Large sink hole over county tile in grass
waterway. Usually a good sign of a
broken tile that’s sucking in a bunch of dirt from flowing water in tile.
CD56 (Garden City
Twp.) I was called out to inspect a couple areas of
collapsed old concrete county tile. The
repairs were made same day.
JD34 (LeRay Twp.) I like to stop in and check on progress of the
contractor to gauge how much work we have left.
Twp.) The repair work for phase two of this system is done for the most part, minus some seeding and clean-up. We do still have a small portion of phase one
that needs some ditch cleaning. This area
is near the intersection of the new middle school just to the east of MN highway
22. Picture of ditch below after heavy rains.
Twp.) A smaller sink hole area is starting to form along
the old concrete line of this system.
More than likely just a separated tile section.
Twp.) We had a contractor make repairs to a slough in a
portion of open ditch.
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.
Drainage Management Specialist