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May 06

Environmental Adventures

Posted on May 6, 2019 at 5:16 PM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 5/6/2019


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

  • No upcoming meetings or hearings.

Project Updates:

  • CD86 (Beauford Twp.)  Additional grading and leveling of the construction site will be needed.  Conditions were too wet in the last couple weeks. 
  • CD48 (Cambria Twp.)  Crews have been doing their best trying to make up for lost time.  Between the winter that didn’t want to end and the wet spring, we haven’t had many great working days so far.     
  • JD09 (Le Ray Twp.)  Crews still plan on plan on doing some work on the southerly portion of this improvement project.  Portions of the old abandoned concrete line still need to be crushed.
  • JD34 (Le Ray Twp.)  General contractor is onsite working on finishing up final “punch-list” items.  Hopefully they can work through this list fairly quickly.     

Environmental Learning Day:
enviro day

Last Friday, May 3, I was fortunate to be part of a very special learning day.  The 4th Annual Environmental Learning Day was held in Lake Crystal.  This year’s day was at Jones Park, down near the saddle club, on the south side of town.

The Environmental Learning Day is focused on elementary kids and educating them at an early age about our environment.  There were around 425 students that attended the learning day.  The students came to the park by grade levels and their individual class groups.  The kids walked the few blocks from their school to Jones Park, where they had four different environmental stations. 

The four different environmental stations included: Litter pick up area, nature hike, water quality testing and environmental learning station.  The classes would all take their turns rotating through all four stations.  Each station was about ten minutes long.  The litter pick up area was a snow stock-pile area.  The city would haul in loads of snow and pile it up in this field area.  The snow often contained garbage or other debris from the city streets. 

The nature hike area was the area I was speaking at.  I spoke about the county drainage ditch that runs along this park area and then in through town.  One other gentleman from the Department of Natural Resources also spoke on the nature hike about trees, the pond, and bugs. 

The water quality station let the kids see how the MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) staff go about doing water tests and what the different water samples look like.  The fourth station, the environmental learning station, had a couple different presenters also.  One of the presenters was speaking and demonstrating the use and importance of solar energy.  The second part of the presentation spoke and also demonstrated about composting.

If was a very successful day and it seemed like the children enjoyed it.  The kids learned lots of new things about the environment, as did some of the adults, including myself.  Many people didn’t realize that the county ditch, CD56, that goes right through town and into Crystal Lake was in fact a county ditch and not a creek or river or stream.  

I gave a few fun facts about the ditch system.  Here are the two interesting facts that I shared with the kids: CD56 drains over 9,000 acres through the ditch and into Crystal Lake.  This equates to over 7,000 football fields draining through the ditch.  The second fun fact is that CD56 has around nine miles of open ditch.  That’s almost the distance from Lake Crystal to Madelia or Lake Crystal to Garden City.

All-in-all it was a fun day for the kids and the adults.  I was proud to be part of this learning day and fortunate enough to be surrounded by some great people doing great things for our environment.  Every little bit helps and Lake Crystal is a shinning example of how little things make big differences when it comes to the environment.  


Recent Drainage Inspections – week of April 22 – April 26:

  • JD51 (Danville Twp) The contractor has finished with cleaning the open ditch on the Blue Earth County side of this multi-county system.  The contractor still needs to replace some outlet tiles in the open ditch.  Seeding should be happening soon, if we can find weather that stays dry long enough to get equipment out along the ditch.
  • CD35 (Mapleton Twp.)  Monitoring the ongoing deteriorating conditions of the side slopes of this open ditch.  We plan on having a contractor clean out the major areas that are pinching off the water flow in the open ditch.  We will not be making any major repairs at this time but some will be needed in the very near future.
  • CD65 (Judson Twp.)  Sink holes have been fixed up for now on this tile system.  We plan on digging up a small area of the county tile to televise what we can, hopefully later this week or early next week.
  • CD56 (Garden City Twp.)  Between sink holes and sloughs, this drainage system took a pretty good hammering last winter.  The issue that is contributing to many issues all across the county is that water table levels are extremely high at the moment and have been for quite some time.  We are seeing sloughing and sediment issues like we never have before.  Water is actually oozing through the ditch banks in areas, causing major sloughing issues.
  • CD69 (Mankato Twp.)  We have a drop intake structure that is at the outlet of this drainage system.  We have ongoing issues with debris plugging up the structure.
  • CD77 (McPherson Twp.)  Resolving issues with multiple broken old tile all coming together at one junction.  
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  We partnered up with our Blue Earth County Sheriff’s department again to do some drone flying.  We were using the drone to fly a section of new tile area that was roughly one mile wide.  Conditions were not only too wet to get out in the field, but the drone gives a much better overhead view of issues.  We tried using the FLIR camera in hopes to pick out tile lines in the ground.  The FLIR sensor can sense major and minor differences in heat.  The Sheriff’s department can use this type of technology for search and rescue.  We can use it to see very detailed differences in terrain.  We hope to continue to learn more ways of using this technology.


Can you name this weed species shown in photo below? Answer will be given in next week’s blog.

scouring rush

We are seeing a fairly large number of tile repairs coming in this time of year.  The unfortunate thing is we are still trying to work through our repair list from last year, 2018.  Please report issues you see on our public drainage systems, whether it’s a tile system or an open ditch system.  The repairs are usually fixed in the order they are received, so please don’t wait to let us know about issues you observe on public drainage systems, as the list grows daily.

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