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Jun 03

Drainage System Setbacks for Solar Projects

Posted on June 3, 2020 at 1:10 PM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 6/3/2020


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

  • In response to COVID-19, the County is prioritizing virtual meetingsWe will send out new notices for all upcoming hearings and meetings.
  • Blue Earth County staff have just recently started hosting board meetings and some drainage hearings virtually.  Blue Earth County staff has been using a combination of live-streaming video and conference call-in options.  Notices sent out for drainage hearings will include all necessary information for landowners to attend these hearings virtually via internet, or through the call-in option.
  • CD92 (Medo Twp.)  We will be hosting a virtual landowner meeting for this drainage system.  Those affected landowners should have received notice of this meeting, including details, via U.S. Mail.                                                                                       

Setback Changes for Drainage Systems:

The Blue Earth County Board of Commissioners recently adopted amendments to the Solar Energy Standards Ordinance. At the May 19th, 2020, Board meeting, the ordinance amendments were approved, following multiple work sessions involving the Board and the County’s Planning Commission. The ordinance amendment clarifies the application process, creates setbacks from large solar energy systems, creates a threshold to review density of large solar energy systems, and updates standards regarding screening, fencing and decommissioning.

One of the ordinance amendments that may be most impactful to blog readers is the addition of setbacks from public drainage systems, both tile and open county ditches. The ordinance now includes a 75 foot setback from the outermost edge of all parts of a large solar system, including buildings and fencing, to either the center of all sub-surface county drain tiles and/or the crown of all open county ditches.

The crown of a county ditch means the top edge of the constructed channel or the crown of the leveled spoil bank, whichever is the greater for the public drainage ditch as described in MN Statute 103E.021.

If considering a solar project, or any building project near a public drainage system, please keep these setbacks in mind. For more information, please contact the Property & Environmental Resources Department at 507-304-4251.

Project Updates:  

  • CD05 (Medo and Danville Twps.)  Cleaning of sediment and tree and brush removal started again last week.  Our contractor is set to replace a couple crossing over the next week.  The repair cleaning looks great and will be a great improvement to this drainage system.IMG_0672
  • JD09 North (LeRay Twp.)  No changes from last week.
  • JD34 (LeRay Twp.)  Most checklist items are complete.  I believe that a final pay request is coming soon.  The next step is final review to make sure all items for this improvement are completed to engineer standards.  After reviews are completed and an As-Built is completed we will then host an acceptance hearing.


Recent Drainage Inspections:

  • JD15 (Lincoln Twp.)  Crews are currently working on our last two sites of repair.
  • CD56 (Garden City Twp.)  We still have a contractor in the watershed area making repairs.  Along with multiple other contractors making other repairs.
  • JD17 (Garden City Twp.)  We currently have three sites for repair on this drainage system.  Two of the three have standing water, making the repairs more complicated.
  • JD36 Brown (Butternut Valley Twp.)  Water levels have gone down from two weeks ago.  Conditions are still wet and soft.  We will see if we can possible do some hydro-jetting to clear any debris from our county tile.
  • CD05 (Danville Twp.)  Monitoring progress or repairs and addressing landowner concerns.
  • CD35 (Mapleton Twp.)  Monitoring any sloughing issues.
  • CD43 (Mankato Twp.)  Inspected area in need of tile repair.  Very shallow tile, difficult to fix and not get future damage from machineryIMG_0674

We have multiple contractors making repairs across the county currently.  Please report repair issues to our drainage staff as soon as you notice them, as this will expedite the time in getting those repairs made.

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