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Nov 12

Agrilcultural Wetland Exemptions

Posted on November 12, 2019 at 11:31 AM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 11/12/2019


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

  • No upcoming hearings or meetings.

Project Updates:


  • CD48 (Cambria Twp.)  Checklist items still remain after harvest is complete and things dry up.  Mostly grading and in-take maintenance is all that remains.
  • JD09 (Le Ray Twp.)  Checklist items remain as well as televising the remaining pipe.  Most of the televising is complete. 
  • JD34 (Le Ray Twp.)  The contractor will be finishing up all checklist items soon.   
  • CD56 (Garden City Twp.)  NEW! We are breaking ground on our phosphorus filter today.  We are hoping that things go smoothly with the installation and things are wrapped up later this week.                                                                                                                               

This is an exciting week for our Drainage Division, as stated above, the phosphorus filter installation begins today! Due to my time out of the office with the filter project, Kristin Altrichter, who works as an Environmental Health Specialist in our Property and Environmental Resources Department, has provided the following information regarding agricultural wetlands. Our department can provide assistance if you are considering drainage alterations.                                                                                                                                      

Wetland Exemptions on Agricultural Land

In October, the Free Press reported that from April 1 to October 1, the area around Mankato received 125 to 150 percent of the normal rainfall amounts. Due to the increased rainfall, many farmers want to remove excess water from their fields by updating and adding drainage features. However, updating or adding drainage to lands, even in some of the areas where crop stress and drownout are occurring, may impact lands that qualify as wetlands regulated under Minnesota’s Wetland Conservation Act (Chapter 8420).

Wetlands are areas that have saturated soils and may occasionally be covered with shallow water. They are defined by the presence of certain types of plants, soils, and moist to wet conditions. Typically, wetland impacts, such as draining and filling, must be avoided or mitigated. However, some areas in agricultural fields that are classified as wetlands are exempt from the State requirements to mitigate for wetland losses. This means, under certain conditions, impacts to these areas do not need to be replaced on the landscape.

The purpose of the Agricultural Exemptions was to allow farmers to continue to farm the fields they were farming prior to the adoption of the rules. As such, cropping history is one of the main criteria used to determine if a project will qualify for an exemption. Historical aerial photos are commonly used to document the cropping history. Blue Earth County Property and Environmental Resources staff can be contacted at 507-304-4381 to help determine if a project will meet one of the exemptions.


Recent Drainage Inspections – week of November 4 – November 8:

  • CD35 (Mapleton Twp.)  Hopefully we have seen the last of the beaver issues for a while on the open ditch.  We will be televising and completing some engineering work to portions of tile for this system. 
  • JD48 Bro (Butternut Valley Twp.)  Monitoring areas of repairs, hopefully we'll start those repairs getting done this week.
  • CD27 (Lincoln Twp.)  A large sink hole is in need of repair. 
  • JD36 Brown (Cambria & Butternut Valley Twps.)  We have a contractor set to start finishing repairs to tile and open ditch concerns.  The utility location calls should be all marked early this week and hope to see the start of repairs by the end of the week.  We also have another beaver trapper that will be helping us with the on-going issue of beaver removal along the open ditch. Some additional sink hole issues have been identified.
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  We have a large ditch bank blow-out that we are hoping to get started on repairing this week. 
  • CD56 (Lincoln Twp.)  New sink holes on portions of county tile lines on the eastern side of this drainage system.   
  • JD21 (Lyra Twp.)  Possible additional sink hole issues along a portion of the county tile.

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