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Sep 17

Repair vs. Improvement - Episode 6

Posted on September 17, 2019 at 11:58 AM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 9/17/2019


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

  • We are still planning on moving forward with our iron/sand phosphorus filter to be constructed this year.  We are planning on installing it in one of two places selected along a CD56 county tile line, near the Lake Crystal area.  I will be sure to keep everyone posted of happenings, including pictures of this first of its kind in Blue Earth County, if not the first of its kind in Minnesota.  Our first phosphorus filter will be on the smaller scale, with hopes of them functioning on larger tile lines in the future.                                                                                                                                                     

Project Updates:


  • CD48 (Cambria Twp.)  Grading, general clean-up and televising is all that remains for this improvement project.
  • JD09 (Le Ray Twp.)  The contractor was out finishing some tile installation on the northern portion of this improvement.  All installation should be finished at this point.  The contractor will have a short check-list to finish this fall after harvest, which would include some additional grading in areas and televising the new pipe. Picture below - completed pipe installation. jd09
  • JD34 (Le Ray Twp.)  Nothing new from last week.    
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  All new tile for this repair petition has been installed, just ahead of last week's heavy rains.  Some additional clean-up work and televising is needed to complete this repair.                                                                                                                                                                  

Repair V.S. Improvement (6):

We left off last week with the engineer giving their final engineer’s report along with a new determination of benefits for the improvement.  With an approved final plan and approved benefits listing, it is time to put this improvement out for public construction bid.

We publicly bid all improvement projects.  We also publicly bid large repairs as well.  There is a monetary threshold that we use to determine whether we need to publicly bid repairs or not.  The public bid notices go out for a minimum of three weeks.  The drainage authority, along with the appointed engineer, will open bids and make sure all bids are satisfactory and legal.  After reviewing all bids, the winning bidder will be awarded and notified.  The general contractor does have a certain window of time to complete the awarded project.  

Compensation is paid to landowners who experience damages due to the construction of the project.  Typically, damages are paid in a one-time payment.  The damages take into consideration the reduction  and loss of productivity for two years.  These damages are calculated and tracked by the engineering firm. Damages can also include crop damages to current season crop or areas that exceed the easement area of construction. 

Our project is bid and the contractor is awarded, hopefully breaking ground soon.  What about the assessment for this project?  We, Blue Earth County, start our assessments before the project is completed.  We try not to run our drainage system accounts in the negative, and assessing ahead of time helps us keep on-top of those costs. 

Once the project is completed and we have final costs submitted, we can then calculate damage payments.  Typically damage payments come in the form of an assessment reduction, not an actual check.  However, there are situations where the damages will outweigh the benefits of the project. In these situations, landowners are paid via check.
Now the project is complete, including televising if new tile was installed.  The drainage authority will hold a Final Acceptance Hearing.  This is the last of the series of improvement hearings and the final part of the improvement process.  The public is invited to attend and make comments about the project. The engineer is also required to give their professional opinion on whether or not the project was constructed to their standards and specifications.

This concludes our educational journey of Repair vs. Improvement. Hopefully everyone learned a little bit from this brief explanation.


Recent Drainage Inspections – week of September 9 – September 13:

  • CD12 (Mankato Twp.)  Phase one of a two-part cleaning has been completed.  We are working with the city of Mankato for them to take over jurisdiction of this open ditch system.  We usually do this with public drainage systems that become part of the city limits.  Picture below - A section of recently cleaned ditch, just after the heavy rains from last week.cd12 cleaning 1
  • CD35 (Mapleton Twp.)  Mowing is completed where we were able.  We still have a beaver issue along the open ditch.  We will hopefully remove the beaver soon and also remove the beaver dam that is holding back a couple feet of additional water in a portion of the ditch.   
  • CD95 (Mapleton Twp.)  Mowing started and ended last week for portions of the open ditch for this system.  We have had a contractor mowing for the last few weeks on multiple open ditch systems.  We have stopped mowing for now and will continue after harvest is completed.
  • CD26 (LeRay Twp.)  Water is backing up near a field crossing.  After making an infield inspection, a massive beaver dam in the driveway culvert was holding back three plus feet of water in the ditch.  It was pretty impressive to see the mini excavator rip open the beaver dam. Doing it by hand would have been very difficult as well as extremely dangerous. 
  • Mowing wrapping up prior to harvest.  Mowing will continue after harvest. We are now concentrating on spraying for brushes, trees and weeds.  We have a short window of warm weather to get some spraying completed.  Spraying these ditches that have been mowed should go fairly quickly, we should be done spraying this week for the remainder of the year.


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 maintence and preserving the overall 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