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Oct 02

Ditch Happenings Sept. 26th - Oct. 2nd

Posted on October 2, 2015 at 4:37 PM by Acacia Wytaske

Last week, I mentioned the Drainage Authority received a petition for repairs on CD56 (Garden City & Lincoln Townships).  You may be wondering what exactly a petition is all about and how the process works, so let's go over it!

The definition of a petition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is "a written document that many people sign to show that they want a person or organization to do or change something".  That's a good general description of what a petition is. In the ditch world, however, it get's a little more complicated.

Petitions by the landowners are required by law for drainage projects such as new systems, abandoning a system, improvements to the system or to an outlet, and redetermination of benefits. Those are just a few examples, there are quite a few more. Additionally, the Blue Earth County Drainage Authority requires a petition anytime there is a potential conflict or when the cost is expected to exceed $100,000.

Here's where it gets complicated; depending on the project, the number or percentage of signatures needed to make a valid petition, who the petition is filed with and whether or not a bond is required, all varies.

For example -
If the petition is for an improvement of an outlet, the petition can be signed by the board of the affected county OR by at least 26% of owners adjoining overflowed property OR by owners of at least 26% of the area of the property that the lateral passes over. It would be filed with the County Auditor, and with the Watershed Manager (if the outlet was within a watershed district). A $10,000 bond would be required to be submitted with the petition.
If the petition is for a redetermination of benefits, the petition can be signed by the Drainage Authority OR more than 50% of owners benefited or damaged by the drainage system. The petition would be filed with the Drainage Authority, and no bond is required.

Then, depending on the type of petition that is submitted the process varies, as well.

For this blog, I'm going to briefly go through the process for a repair petition since that is what was just submitted to the Drainage Authority last week.

We receive and review the petition as submitted. If necessary, we would forward the petition to our attorney for review. The Drainage Authority appoints an engineer and orders a detailed repair report. Once the engineer's report is filed, a public hearing is held. If a redetermination of benefits is required to proceed, the viewers are appointed. A final hearing is held after the redetermination of benefits is completed and then the construction begins. 

There are online resources available to you if you are enticed to know more. The "Understanding MN Public Drainage Law" booklet gives an easy to read overview of the legal requirements for each type of petition. The MN Public Drainage Manual is also available.  Both of these documents are in the process of being updated by the MN Board of Water & Soil Resources. Read more about the update process here.

Weekly Tidbits -

- Hunting season reminder: county ditches are considered a watershed easement, so the land the county ditch runs through is still owned by individual landowners. You must get permission from the landowner to hunt along a county ditch, they are not public property.  If you have any questions regarding this, please give me a call. My direct line is 507-304-4264. 
Casey Wytaske, Taxpayer Service Specialist - Drainage and Taxation

And because you know how I feel about a blog with no pictures... here's the beautiful bike I brought home with me from Amsterdam parked in front of our lovely Historic Courthouse. :)