Drainage update 6/16/2020
Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:
- Blue Earth County staff have 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 property owners to attend these hearings virtually or through the call-in option.
- CD92 (Medo Twp.) hearing will be held next week. Affected landowners should have received notices via U.S. Mail, which would have included details for the upcoming hearing.
- JTD83 and CD26 (McPherson Twp.) Pre-construction meetings this week. Details should have been mailed out to affected landowners.
Right of Entry:
A topic that seems to come up from time-to-time, whom has the right to enter a person’s personal property for public drainage system inspections? There have been more than a few times where I have been asked the question, “do you have the right to just come on people’s property?” The simple answer is, yes, if it is for the sole purpose of drainage inspections. Once a drainage system is officially established, the drainage authority has a statutory obligation to maintain and inspect these systems. The inspections are done by the appointed committee, or most often, by the appointed drainage inspector.
Public drainage systems that consist of open ditch systems, shall have their systems inspected at a minimum of once every five years. Inspections include repair inspections, buffer violations, and maintenance items. Public drainage systems are managed by a drainage authority. Many times, the drainage authority is also the county board members, or commissioners. Statute clearly states that the drainage inspector cannot be a county commissioner, but can be the county engineer, or any other person designated by the drainage authority.
The engineer, their assistant or any other appointed person, including the inspector, may enter the area of the public drainage system at any time for the business of drainage. The inspectors right of entry falls into Minnesota statue 103E.705, which included the language of regular inspections.
Is it criminal trespass if the drainage inspector, engineer or their assistant enters without prior permission? No, it is not trespassing because appointed personal by the drainage authority reserve the right of entry. It may be considered trespassing if one would enter the property for reasons outside of drainage or refusing to leave by property owner request.
Drainage staff have the authority to determine the frequency of inspections. Most open ditch drainage systems require more inspection and maintenance than a tile drainage system. This makes sense, as the open ditch is much more susceptible to natures elements such as rain, snow, freezing and so on.
The area of easement can vary from tile system to open ditch systems, as the area needed to repair or maintain can be very different. Typically, open ditch systems have an easement area over the entire open ditch area, plus an additional 16.5-foot (1 rod) area from the top of the open ditch. Blue Earth County Drainage Authority does not allow any permanent structures of any sort in the area of the ditch, including the 16.5-foot “buffer” area. The image below illustrates the top of an open ditch bank and corresponding buffer. Permanent structures could include, but are not limited to, trees, fences, equipment, abandoned automobiles, storage buildings, roads or paths. The main reason for this is for inspection and maintenance purposes and access.
Often times inspections take place without notification to the property owner. This is due to the ever-changing nature of these systems and the need for timely inspections, in addition to the lack of contact information for property owners.
- JD34 (LeRay Twp.) No new updates from last week.
- CD05 (Medo and Danville Twps.) Crews are still cleaning and installing some new open ditch crossings. Many of the existing crossings are getting new fabric and riprap installed to protect from flood damage.
- JD09 North (LeRay Twp.) No changes from last week.
Recent Drainage Inspections:
- CD35 (Mapleton Twp.) Monitoring water levels in the open ditch. When the weather is dry, things look good.
- CD56 (Garden City Twp.) We are still working on repairing tile through some grassy areas that are causing issues with sediment and roots in the old concrete tile. Hopefully all necessary repairs will be completed in the next couple of days.
- CD57 (Mapleton Twp.) Ongoing issues with a lingering solar field repair.
- JD15 (Lincoln Twp.) We are still letting water drain down to make a few repairs to an area that has two lines joining together.
- JD17 (Garden City Twp.) Crews found out that the little sink hole is now over 200 feet of replacing tile. The water is finally starting to slowly drain down and will continue for a few more days. Once the water levels are manageable, the tile repairs can happen and close the hole up. Multiple pictures showing the moat of water flowing, trying to slowly and safely drain lots of water ponded upstream. Photos showing how we are attempting to drain water down to install the nearly 200 feet of new tile needed.
- CD05 (Danville Twp.) Just a few photos of the progress the contractors are making to portions of the open ditch system. We are very pleased with how things are turning out with this repair. Photo showing crews installing a new crossing.
Do you have questions or topics about drainage that you would like to here more about? If you would like me to incorporate those concerns or topics in one of my future blogs, please feel free to email me at the listed email address below.
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.
Drainage Management Specialist