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Aug 20

Repair vs. Improvement - Episode 2

Posted on August 20, 2019 at 10:05 AM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 8/20/2019


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

  • We will be hosting three landowner meetings next week.  JD33 (McPherson Twp.), CD65 (Judson Twp.) and CD56 (Garden City Twp.).  Those landowners affected by these meetings should have received notices in the mail.  Those notices included details of times and locations for these meetings.                                                                                                                              

Project Updates:                                        


  • CD48 (Cambria Twp.)  No updates from last week.
  • JD09 (Le Ray Twp.)  Parts of the new tile system have been televised. 
  • JD34 (Le Ray Twp.)  Nothing new from last week.    
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  The drier weather has crews installing new HDPE tile at a much quicker pace.  As of last Friday, the contractor had almost 1,400 feet of new tile installed.                                                                                                                                                               

Drainage Minutes:

We spoke last week about the repair side of things versus improvement.  This week we will start down the path of improvement process, which can be lengthy and expensive.

Technology is constantly changing in all facets of industry.  Why would drainage be any different?  Many producers system tile their fields with 50 foot spacing, or less, in between tile lines.  Most of these new tile systems are designed to drain a half inch of water per day.  A potential drainage problem occurs when new tile is connected to an old tile system.  Many of our older system where designed to handle a quarter of an inch per day of water, or less.  I often tell people to envision hooking up a fire hose to a garden hose and hoping it will work.

Typically improvements start with a landowner or a group of landowners coming together to discuss on-going issues with their drainage system.  Many producers are seeing the financial impacts that outdated drainage systems can have on producing row crops, or agriculture, in general.  The drainage staff, either Craig or myself, usually try to discuss the steps and options landowners have, either completing a repair or improvement.  If it is decided that an improvement would serve the best interest of the drainage system and the landowners, we would then proceed down the improvement route.  One of the first steps to the improvement is having a feasibility study completed on the system.  We also recommend, around that same time, landowners consult a drainage attorney.  Improvements are a legal proceeding and require an attorney.  Landowners do not have to consult an attorney right away, but we, Blue Earth County Drainage staff, feel it’s a good place to start to become informed about the legal process and potential liabilities to the landowners.

The feasibility study is a very quick and fairly inexpensive engineer report.  The report will usually include current tile sizes, ditches and drainage coefficients.  The report will also give an approximate cost to improve the existing system, whether it’s the entire system or just portions.  We conduct landowner meetings to discuss these improvement options and to gain feedback from the landowners about costs, alternatives, and if there is still a desire to continue forward with the improvement.  Check in next week for more  information regarding improvements.                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Recent Drainage Inspections – week of August 12 – August 16:

  • JD36 (Butternut Valley Twp.)  I meet with landowners to discuss possible improvement options to an older branch of the tile portion of this drainage system.
  • JD36 Bro. (Butternut Valley Twp.)  Televising has been completed and reviewed from two portions of tile on this system.  One being the main line and the other being Branch 10.  Despite this being a 95-year-old tile line, the televising showed no major collapses.  
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  Our contractor on this repair has been making up for lost time with the drier weather lately.  They still have a few thousand feet of new tile to install.   
  • CD27 (Lincoln Twp.)  Seeding is coming up great and things are looking nice.  Glad we installed the shelf for ease with future cleanings.
  • JD48Bro (Butternut Valley Twp.) CD50 (Lincoln Twp.) CD27 (Garden City 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 these ditches is complete, the contractor will follow up with spraying for re-growth of weeds and brush.  Below - A new box culvert on County Road 111 and JD48 drainage system.jd48 bro new culvert csah 111 crossing
  • CD56 (Lincoln and Garden City Twps.)  We are mowing a portion of this open ditch this year, followed up by spraying for weeds.

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 doing the mowing and spraying as part of maintence 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