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Jul 01

Contaminants of Concern

Posted on July 1, 2020 at 1:29 PM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 6/30/2020


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or 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 option also.  Notices sent out for drainage hearings will include all necessary information for our constituents to attend these hearings virtually via internet, or through the call-in option.                                                                                                                                                                               

Concerns Over Emerging Contaminants:

I recently came across an interesting article talking about contaminants of emerging concern.  Well, naturally, a phrase like that caught my interest.

A three-year study performed by a group made up of researchers from the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.  The researchers tested water, sediment and fish species for the presences of any number of 160 different chemicals.  The focus area was over 28 different lakes or water body areas in northeastern Minnesota.

Out of the 160 different chemicals researchers where testing for, they discovered the presence of 117 of those.  Included in these 117 chemicals discovered is, antibiotics, hormones, antidepressants, cancer drugs, cocaine and DEET, just to mention a few.  Researchers go on to say that out of the 28 study locations, not even one, was without some amount of chemicals they were studying.  The group of chemicals that researchers were studying are widely used, often unregulated or monitored, and often untreated in our wastewater treatment facilities.

One would expect to find these types of chemicals and contaminants near a much more developed area, but not in the very remote lakes of northern Minnesota, some of which are uninhabited.  Some of the chemical levels in these remote lakes was alarmingly high, at levels typically found near more urbanized areas.  With no usual suspects to point source of contamination at, especially in such a remote area, researchers are suggesting atmospheric deposition is a possibility for how these chemicals are making their way into such remoter lakes.  So, chemicals transport through rain, snow, dust and other environmental ways.

Yes, some of the lakes studied did have higher levels of chemical readings, but new technologies can find the smallest amounts of contaminants in water.  Some of the amounts found in this study are comparable to one drop of contaminant in an area the size of 20 Olympic pools.  Researchers don’t seem concerned so much for human safety at these levels, but more the concern for the ecology and biology side of things.  How will these chemicals change fish populations, bacterial growths and the over-all future of these remote Eco-systems?  Further studies and time will tell.  For more reading on this, check out the link provided.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Project Updates:  

  • JD34 (LeRay Twp.)  Nothing new to report from last week.
  • CD05 (Medo and Danville Twps.)  New crossing installed last week and some more tree clearing.cd5 crossing 2
    cd5 crossing

  • JD09 North (LeRay Twp.)  No changes from last week.


Recent Drainage Inspections:

  • CD35 (Mapleton Twp.)  Monitoring water levels in open ditch. 
  • CD56 (Garden City Twp.)  Crews are still trying to finish repairs started a couple weeks ago.  Recent wet conditions have delayed these two repair areas.  We did get a new intake installed to test and monitor the treated water coming out of our phosphorus filter that we had installed last year.
  • JD15 (Lincoln Twp.)  Things were drying out, almost ready to make repairs, well Mother-Nature had other ideas lately.
  • JD17 (Garden City Twp.)  Dewatering our repair sight almost caught up last week, the rains yesterday set us back yet again.
  • JD48 (Butternut Valley Twp.)  Areas of sloughing from our recent storms.

Recent storms dumped large amounts of rain across our county.  I have reports from half of an inch to over seven inches.  I dumped 3.2 inches out of the rain gauge in the back yard.  Check out the photo below, this is an app that I often use to find out rain total information.  This rain total was from over by Cambria township area yesterday, mid-afternoon.Cambria twp rain 06292020

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.




Ryan Hiniker

Drainage Management Specialist