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Feb 19

Drainage Knowledge 2

Posted on February 19, 2019 at 5:15 PM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 2/19/2019


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

  • No upcoming hearing or meetings for a few weeks. 

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, Round Two:


Last week, we had two drainage scenarios, and the answers are below...
Both scenarios from last week's blog are legal repairs.  Scenario 1:  We are legally allowed to use the next available size of pipe.  Newer pipe sizes don’t always match up with the old size tiles.  Scenario 2:  Things can get confusing with moving a line when it sounds like it should be an improvement.  It is perfectly legal if it is to support the structural integrity of the drainage system. Sometimes it’s also in the best interest of a program, or set-aside area, to reroute drain tile.  In the end it is to benefit both parties, drainage system landowners and wildlife habitat groups.

The next couple of scenarios will test your drainage knowledge some more.  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, improvement or other, based on the information given in the scenario.


Scenario number one:  We have an existing old concrete county tile line.  This concrete line has never really worked great since it was originally installed.  We do repairs to this old tile line as they are needed.  We finally do some investigative work by televising the tile line and find it almost completely full of sediment in large portions of the tile.  Current landowner wants to add more private tile to get better drainage and improve his ROI (return on investment) from farming the land. 

After reviewing the televising and having discussions with the landowner, its decided that we replace the old concrete line with a new HDPE tile line.  Due to the nature of the large expense, we also hold a landowner meeting for all landowners in the watershed.  Between the current landowner and other landowners in the system, it is decided to install the new tile around the same depth and the around the same size, as the original tile,  if possible.  Question is, can we install a new line next to an old line as a repair or improvement?  Bonus question, if done as a repair, what automatically happens to the old concrete line?
new tile line map

Scenario number two:  We have a drainage system that is a mix of tile and open ditch.  We have a repair request come in to the drainage authority from some concerned landowners that have land along the open ditch.  An engineering company is hired and comes up with plans to clean large areas of the open ditch and repair areas of sloughing (ditch banks collapsing).  Part of the engineer’s job is also to review any and all ditch crossings to make sure that they are structurally sound and adequately sized.  Some of these crossings are either from the original construction of the ditch or added sometime after. 

As many of us know, farming practices and farming equipment are much different than they were 40 or 50 years ago.  What happens when we have a narrow and dilapidated field crossing that was clearly made for small tractors and gravity wagon style equipment?  We often get asked if we can make a crossing wider, especially when doing repair or improvement projects.  My question is this, if the original width of the crossing was 20 feet wide, can we make it 40 feet wide and who pays for that?  If there is no current crossing in the drainage ditch, but one is being requested, can one be added?  Who pays for a new field crossing?
crossing map

I asked a few questions with scenario number two.  Give both scenarios some thought and email me with answers if you’d like, I’d love to hear from people their thoughts on these scenarios.   




Recent Drainage Inspections – week of February 11 – February 15:

  • No inspections were made last week.  The winter weather has all of our contractors shut down at the moment, at least for county drainage projects.
  • We have started planning for spraying and mowing for our open ditches along the western and southern parts of the county.  I plan on having a contractor do both herbicide treatment (spring) and mowing in the later summer/early fall.  

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