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Oct 15

Buffer Deadline Approaches

Posted on October 15, 2018 at 8:14 PM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 10/15/2018

Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

  • No upcoming meetings or hearings.

Project Updates:   

  • JD09 (Le Ray Twp.)  Very little work was done last week because of the wet and muddy working conditions.  A long stretch of warmer drier weather would do wonders for this project.
  • CD48 (Cambria Twp.)   We should start to see some action very soon on this project.  I’m being told the two borings to go under Minnesota Highway 68 should be starting this week or next.  We are running out of time to make some of the necessary road crossings, so you will probably see these done before most of the actual tile.  Opening road surfaces up this time of year increases the chance of having issues in the spring with soft areas.
  • CD35 (Mapleton Twp.)  The new 60-inch pipe has been installed and the road ditch reshaped.  Things seem to be working out just fine so far with the new pipe and it is performing just as the engineers had hoped - if not better.
  • JD34 (Le Ray Twp.)  Nothing new to report as of this time. 

Buffer Deadline:

In just a little over two weeks, the second round of the buffers deadline will be here.  November 1, 2018, is the deadline for 103F buffers. This is the deadline for public drainage system buffers that have open ditch drainage.  Last November 1 (2017) was the deadline for all public waters to have buffers. 

The buffer minimum for public drainage systems is 16.5 feet in width, unless using some other NRCS approved alternative practice.  The buffers for this public drainage portion should and can be marked out by your local SWCD group. 

The recent wet weather patterns have put fall harvest behind schedule.  If you are a landowner that has not planted your buffer area yet and you don’t have an approved SWCD extension, time is running out for you. 

While I see many ditches even in Blue Earth County that don’t have the required buffer strips along them, as a whole, Blue Earth County is doing very well for compliance with the buffer laws.  The landowner, along a public drainage system with an open ditch, is responsible for having their buffer area planted by November 1, 2018, or at least having a plan on record with the local SWCD office with an extension filed.  Seed and planting costs are up to the individual landowner unless outside funding is found elsewhere. 

These buffer areas can later be paid for by a buffer easement when the local Drainage Authority decides to have a Redetermination of Benefits (ROB) done.  When a ROB is done by professional teams of viewers, this gives an updated value of how the individual parcels benefit from either a current drainage system or a new or improved system.  Updated ROBs are necessary to make sure that we (Drainage Authority) are using the best available numbers when considering how to distribute cost across a watershed. 

Since 1978, when a new ROB is preformed and accepted by the Drainage Authority, the system has to purchase an easement.  The way you measure where these easements start and stop changed in 2010.  The measurement for buffers with ROBs from 2010 and newer start at the top of the ditch bank slope and measures out 16.5 feet.  This is also the same way of measuring for the 103F buffers that have the November 1, 2018 deadline.

Wondering what to plant in these buffer areas?  Please check with your local SWCD or Public Drainage Authority.  103F buffers (new buffer) and our 103E buffer (the current law buffer) have drastically different lists of things that can and can’t be planted in the buffer areas.  Not sure if you have a 103E buffer or 103F buffer?  Give us a call at the drainage office and we would be more than happy to answer that question for you.


Recent Drainage Inspections – week of October 8 – October 12:

  • CD27 (Lincoln Twp.)  We plan on finishing the open ditch cleaning on the south side of MN Highway 60, just west of Lake Crystal.  The challenge with this ditch cleaning is that the open ditch is very deep and a long reach out from the current side bank.  We will have to have a contractor install an area of a shelf.  This shelf area is where an average 60-foot-long reach excavator could reach when doing cleaning work on the open ditch.  The shelf will be permanent and will all be seeded with grass seed.
  • CD35 (Mapleton Twp.)  I stopped by a few times to make observations on the rising waters of the recent rains to monitor how our new pipe is performing.  This low-flow crossing design is a first for us in Blue Earth County as a type of conservation practice.  Hopefully this design works out well, as I can see many other ditch systems that would greatly benefit from a similar design.   
  • CD56 (Garden City & Lincoln Twps) Crews should be all cleaned up for now.  The contractor from last year's repair and cleaning project should have finished all of his punch-list items.  There are still a few small areas that will need further attention with preventing sloughs.
  • CD41 (Vernon Center Twp.)  No ditch cleaning has started as of yet.  We are still hoping to get this open ditch area cleaned out yet this year.
  • JD51 Was (Danville Twp.)  We will be having a major full ditch system cleaning starting in the relative future.  As of last Friday, October 12, the joint counties' drainage authorities approved a large repair and ditch cleaning proposal.  For those affected by this system, you should receive a notice in the mail in the next few weeks discussing this project.  Please call with questions or concerns about this project.
  • CD05 (Danville Twp.)  We had an issue with a small area of erosion around an existing crossing.  Some additional rip-rap should fix the problem.


No blog next Monday, October 22, as I will be out of the office until October 24.  Back on Monday, October 29 with more blog.


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