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Aug 13

Repair vs. Improvement - Episode 1

Posted on August 13, 2019 at 10:39 AM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 8/13/2019


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

  • No upcoming hearings or meetings.                                                                                                 

Project Updates:   

  • CD48 (Cambria Twp.)  Water quality intakes should be completed.
  • JD09 (Le Ray Twp.)  We should see some mowing of the buffer areas along the open ditch and pond area. 
  • JD34 (Le Ray Twp.)  Nothing new from last week.    
  • JD51 Waseca (Danville Twp.)  Everything should be complete.  The buffer areas have been seeded as of late last week, no further repairs should be needed. 
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  Not much activity to report from last week.                                                       

Drainage Minutes:

Last week I said I would start doing a step-by-step explanation of whether something that needs to be fixed falls into the repair or the improvement category.  Let’s consider this week one of that process.

When there is a repair or an issue, we require that all issues be reported to the drainage office and be inspected before any work is completed.  In most cases, things are usually a pretty straight forward fix, such as repairing a broken tile section, or repairing a sink hole or slough area.  Those are all completed as repairs, simple repairs at that.  We can also have repairs that require a repair petition. If a repair project is expected to exceed $100,000 then the drainage authority is required to hire an engineer and the engineer completes a repair report.  The repair report goes before the drainage authority in the form of a formal drainage hearing.  If the drainage authority deems the repair petition as valid and report it is in the best interest of the drainage system, the project will then be put out for public bid.  

Once a responsible bidder or contractor is awarded the work, the work can begin immediately, no additional hearings are needed.  Most people prefer to go the repair route because of the quicker time frame.  Fixing tile or cleaning ditches can be done as repairs.  Even replacing large amounts of tile can be done as a repair.  The down fall of doing things as a repair is the new tile or cleaned the open ditch needs to be restored to the drainage system's original hydraulic capacity.  What does that mean? It means that the new tile has to be installed at the same depth and slope as the old tile.  It also means that the open ditch cannot be cleaned deeper or widened.

We do have a special situation where we can move an existing tile line without doing it as an improvement.  This situation arises where peat soils are present.  Peat soils actually shrink, or subside, over decades.  This means the tile that was originally installed at six feet deep may now only be one foot deep because of soil subsidence.  In these special situations we try to move the existing tile line into a near-by hillside to get more cover over the tile.  We aren’t putting the tile deeper or changing the slope of the pipe, we are just physically moving the tile line to have more cover on the pipe.  When completing tile repairs, we are supposed to install the same size tile and utilize the same grade as the existing tile.  Many of the old tile sizes are no longer made, so we are able to go up to the next available tile size.

This is the repair portion in a nut shell, next week we will dive into the lengthy process of improvement.

Recent Drainage Inspections – week of August 5 – August 9:

  • CD35 (Mapleton Twp.)  I’ve been monitoring the beaver activity along the open ditch.
  • JD36 Bro. (Butternut Valley Twp.)  We had a contractor out televising two of our county tile lines that are getting rather old.  95 years old to be more exact, tile shown below. jd36 televise
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  Quiet week last week.
  • JD51 Was. (Danville Twp.)  All repairs and seeding should be completed and this repair should officially be complete.
  • CD27 (Lincoln Twp.)  All seeding and cleaning are complete, equipment should be  off site.
  • JD09Bro (Cambria Twp.) JD36Bro (Cambria & Butternut Valley Twp.) JD48Bro (Butternut Valley Twp.)  We had a contractor start mowing some of the buffer areas along portions of these ditches.  Our contractor will continue to mow most of the open ditches in the westerly and southerly townships of the county.  After mowing of these ditches is complete, the contractor will follow up with spraying for re-growth of weeds and brush.
  • CD56 (Lincoln and Garden City Twps.)  We are having some major issues with an invasion of cattails in portions of the open ditch area.  Photo below shows just how thick the cattails get.cattails

Just as a friendly reminder with the grass buffer areas along our county ditches, we ask that people please do not place rocks or any debris that may damage our contractor’s mower or sprayer equipment.  We also ask that no equipment or permanent items be parked or left in this buffer area.  We are completing the mowing and spraying as part of maintenance and preserving the over-all health of the ditch system.  Please call or email with questions or concerns.

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