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Feb 12

Drainage Knowledge?

Posted on February 12, 2019 at 9:07 AM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 2/11/2019


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

  • JD15 LES (Jamestown Twp.)  We will be hosting a Redetermination of Benefits Hearing.  This meeting will be held in the Blue Earth County Historic Courthouse in the Board of Commissioners meeting room on the second floor.  Landowners affected by this should have received notice via mail.  Landowner letters will have specific times, date and location details.  Please call or email with additional questions.
  • Drainage and Water Conference:  This annual drainage conference will be held this Thursday in St. Cloud, Minnesota.  This conference is designed more for drainage professionals or persons working in related fields.
  • Multiple drainage systems: Redetermination of Benefits hearings will be coming up in the near future.  More information to follow in the following weeks.  Landowners affected by these hearings will be receiving notices soon, via notice in the mail. 



Project Updates:


  • All projects and repairs are on hold until spring thaw.  Dangerous weather conditions and large amounts of frost have things shut down.  Please don’t be afraid to keep reporting issues with our public drainage systems.  The sooner issues are reported, the quicker they can get put on a list for repair this spring.

Test Your Drainage Knowledge:

The next couple of scenarios will test your drainage knowledge.  The two following scenarios are for fictional purposes only and do not reflect any current or specific landowner or property situation.  I will give two drainage scenarios and the objective is to guess what is the proper procedure to follow - repair or improvement - based on the information given in the scenario.

Scenario 1:  A landowner calls in giving a report of issues of standing water in a field.  After receiving the report, I go out in the field and confirm that the drainage issue is in fact on a county system.  After doing some tile investigation involving multiple contractors to perform televising and digging, we discover multiple areas of old original clay tile that has failed.  This old clay tile turns out to be 13-inch diameter tile (clay often was strange sizes not commonly used today).

Can I legally (statutorily) install 15-inch plastic dual wall tile in the areas that need to be replaced?  I will be removing the old broken clay tile in the areas it is broke, and reinstalling the 15-inch plastic and butting up the joints from the plastic to the clay.  I will install the new plastic pipe at the approximate same grade and depth as the old clay tile that was removed.  So, tell me what does this action of installing new plastic pipe fall under, repair or improvement?

Scenario 2:  We have a public drainage system that has issues year-after-year.  We seem to constantly be spending money on repairs that don’t last.  This particular area, where the public tile drainage system passes through, is a very wet peat soil area.  Due to its wet nature, it might actually be in a program like CRP, CREP or some other set-aside program, because of its ongoing difficulty to row-crop it. 

We (drainage authority) currently have a tile system in this peat area and the tile has actually worked its way to the soil surface in some areas.  Due to freeze/thaw process and subsidence, the tile has pushed up shallower than its original install depth.  The current tile is out of repair and now has a negative grade (tile grade runs wrong way). 

The drainage authority staff decide that it is in the best interest of the drainage system to actually move this portion of tile (the tile in the peat soil area).  The new tile is dual wall plastic pipe and is cross-connected on each end of the peat soil area, or area of subsidence.  The “old” tile line and the “new” tile line are the same size and even same material.  The new tile line is moved two hundred feet farther east into a hillside, away from the low peat area.  The new tile line is installed at or as close to the original depth and slope as possible. 

Question is, can this be done as a repair or improvement?  Remember we physically have moved the drainage system two hundred feet farther east for a short portion.  Email me your answers if you’d like, answers to come with next week's blog edition.  See map drawing below for visual example.   

tile example  



Recent Drainage Inspections – week of February 4 – February 8:

  • No inspections were made last week.  The wintery weather has all of our contractors shut down at the moment, at least for county drainage projects. 

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