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Apr 01

Winter's Aftermath

Posted on April 1, 2019 at 6:25 PM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 4/1/2019


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

  • Monday, April 8, we will be having a landowner meeting to discuss issues with JD01 Faribault.  Landowners on this system should have received notices with specifics of time, location, and other matters.  Landowners can call with any questions about this upcoming meeting.    
  • Water Storage Seminar…

Project Updates:


  • CD86 (Beauford Twp.)  Crews finished making repairs to a section of 24-inch tile last Friday.  Despite very difficult and downright unpleasant working conditions, all new line and connections were done and things are back to flowing normally again.  There will be some additional site clean up work and seeding to do once things dry up a bit more.
  • CD48 (Cambria Twp.)  Crews should be starting back up on this improvement project - possibly this week.  Around half of the total new tile to be installed is done.  The plan is to have all new tile installed before spring planting.
  • JD09 (Le Ray Twp.)  I was informed that the contractor should be back very soon to start with final checklist items.  There shouldn’t be too much additional work to do this spring.  I don’t expect the contractor to be on this project more than a couple weeks this spring.
  • JD34 (Le Ray Twp.)  The general contractor for this improvement project should be showing up onsite in the next couple weeks to finish televising and to complete a list of checklist items.  Hopefully all checklist items will be done before spring planting starts.

Dead Fish:

This last winter delivered record-breaking cold temps and record-breaking snowfall totals, but it has also been hard on everyone and everything.  Our county drainage systems aren’t the only things that have taken this seemingly never-ending winter not so well.

If you are a fellow outdoors person and you have been out looking at some of the local lakes, you have probably noticed a pattern on some of these smaller, shallower lakes.  Dead fish - way more than normal numbers of dead fish.  This is not an uncommon thing with some of our shallow local lakes. 

So, why does this smelly phenomenon occur?  Fish species are like us; they depend on oxygen to breathe.  Fish source their dissolved oxygen from the water.  In the winter time, oxygen levels in shallow lakes can deplete especially quickly.  With a sheet of ice on the surface of the lake, and then throw snow on top of that, aquatic species of plants have a hard time gathering sunlight.  The aquatic species of plants produce an oxygen source for fish through the plant’s natural photosynthesis process.  The major component to the photosynthesis process is light as an energy source to help the plants complete this process. 

An interesting article put out not so long ago spoke about this issue and how severe it could be this Spring because of our winter.  The article included comments from local MN DNR (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources) fisheries personnel that spoke about how they like to see these fish kill situations on some of shallow lakes.  The DNR said the reason that they prefer the fish kill occasionally is because many of these shallow lakes are used as nursery ponds for their fingerlings (small baby fish).  DNR staff will put tons of fingerlings into these shallow lakes and then try to harvest them to repopulate other larger lakes. The problem is, they never get all of the fingerlings or baby fish, and those left behind turn into large predator fish.  Those predator fish then feed on the next generations of fingerlings.

What can be done when winters are just too long and hard on our fish populations in these shallow lakes?  Many small lakes have aerator systems.  These are systems that create an artificial way of supplying oxygen to the water column.  These aerator pumps are expensive to run because they usually run on electricity.  Most of these aerator pumps are paid for by local lake clubs or watershed clubs.  Because the costs to operate can add up quickly, the decision to turn these pumps on is usually only in extreme conditions.  According to the article, there are 109 aeration systems in Minnesota and that 70 of them were running this past winter.  That tells you right there just how extreme this past winter was. 

Televising Technology: 

We had the opportunity to get a hands-on demonstration of some fairly new technology being used in the pipe inspection world.  Battery operated, completely portable televising machine. We'll try and provide more information in a future DrainageBlog.

Recent Drainage Inspections – week of March 25 – March 29:

  • CD86 (Beauford Twp.)  Construction crews were out making repairs to a portion of 24-inch tile.
  • JD36 (Butternut Twp.)  Multiple issues with possible tile collapse and holding back large amounts of water.
  • JD51 Was. (Danville Twp.)  We have a contractor that is just getting going with a large-scale ditch cleaning project on this system.  The machine on-site that the contractor is using to do the cleaning is unlike any other I have seen yet.  The photos below are of the machine being used.  The bucket measurements, from my rough estimates using my own foot, are 12 feet wide, 6 feet tall and 4 feet deep.  The bucket can also tip from side to side;not many excavator buckets can do that, or even have a need to do that.
excav 2excav 3
excav 1

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