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Dec 08

Coming Together for a Common Cause

Posted on December 8, 2021 at 7:49 AM by Ryan Hiniker


Drainage update 12/7/2021



Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:


Blue Earth County Board meetings are occurring in-person.  Board meeting agendas and information packets are available online prior to the meeting; please see the agenda for virtual participation options.  We ask those that wish to attend in-person abide by current CDC guidelines.  Masks are recommended in all county buildings.

  • JD36 (Butternut Valley and Cambria Twps.)  A Joint county hearing will be held for this drainage system.  The joint hearing will be to discuss upcoming repairs to portions of this drainage system.  Affected individuals should have received notice via U.S. Mail.  Notices included details of locations and times for this upcoming hearing.



County Ditch 56 Update:

 delta 2

County Ditch 56 is a public drainage system located near Lake Crystal, Minnesota, in the western part of Blue Earth County.  County Ditch 56 is in Garden City and Lincoln Townships.  As many blog readers know, CD56 seems to be mentioned often, or more often then other drainage systems in our county.


County Ditch 56 has had an ongoing history with water quality, sediment issues and the incorporation of Crystal and Loon Lakes, that surround the community of Lake Crystal.  This history has had positives and negatives, a history dating back to the 50’s and earlier.  CD56 is a drainage system that came about by combining multiple other drainage systems into one.  This combining of multiple separate systems also changed the outlet into Crystal Lake.  The original outlet, when there were separate systems, used to go south to a river system.  The original outlet to the river drained what is the southern and western portion of the current CD56 watershed.

 At some point in history, Crystal Lake went from just a wetland to a recreational lake. The construction of the dam at Crystal Lakes outlet helped make this possible.  The dam controlled the once seasonable water fluctuations of the lake, keeping it at a more consistent depth.  Once County Ditch 56 was created, the entire watershed was designed to drain through Crystal Lake.


Throughout history, flooding and sediment issues have been a top concern with CD56.  Today this is still a very real concern.  As many know, especially those individuals that live or have experience with Garden City and Lincoln Townships, the soils in those townships are light and sandy in most areas.  The light soils cause issues for erosion, especially when those dirt particles or erosion settle into an open ditch.  It’s not just wind erosion that’s the issue, but a combination of things.  One other large factor is the soil profiles, or the different soil types and their layers.  Most of those soil types are sandy and are susceptible to wind and water erosion.

So now that you have a brief history and knowledge of CD56, lets bring you up to speed on recent activity.  With more support on both the local and government levels, things are changing. The issues of sediment and water quality are being addressed in bite size pieces, which is step in the right direction.  More attention is being paid to landowner and stakeholder voices and ideas.

Blue Earth County is working with the City of Lake Crystal, Blue Earth County SWCD, an engineering firm, and Crystal and Loon Lake water groups to help drive forward water quality initiatives.  These groups worked to put together landowner meetings to discuss concerns and ideas for water quality. Out of the most recent landowner meeting, a survey was put out to landowners and other individuals to express their feelings and thoughts on how the future of water quality should look for County Ditch 56, but also Crystal and Loon Lakes.  The data from this survey is now driving this same group, as mentioned above, to work together to seek more permanent solutions to water quality, sedimentation and nutrients.  These future plans and ideas will hopefully have long lasting effects, for not only the community of Lake Crystal, but also those lake goers, and County Ditch 56 landowners alike.

As some of these plans move forward, more details will be shared.


Project Updates:   

  • JD17 (Garden City Twp.)  Still hoping to finish up check-list items.  
  • JD14 (Judson Twp.)  The general contractor for this project finished installing new tile last week.  Additional check-list items remain and will be worked on.
  • JD15 (Jamestown Twp.)  The awarded contractor for this project has starting moving equipment to the site.  We are expecting a late season start to this small project.
  • JD15 (Lincoln Twp.)  Tile reroute repair went very well, waters draining, and things are all fixed back up.  We are still awaiting a final “As-Built”, but things are restored and looking good. 

Recent Drainage Inspections:

  • JD07 (Judson Twp.)  We had a contractor replace branch 4 on this public drainage system.  The old original concrete line for branch 4 is now abandoned.  The new line is dual wall hdpe tile.
  • JD48 (Butternut Valley Twp.)  Mowing of certain areas has been completed.
  • JD15 (Lincoln Twp.)  Ongoing issues and repairs for portions of branch 1 continue.  A larger more permanent repair or improvement will be needed for portions of this system.   
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  Mowing of certain areas of the buffer has been completed.  Additional repair to a tile outlet is still needed, hopefully in the next couple weeks.
  • CD56 (Garden City Twp.)  One lateral repair and replacement done and on to the next one.  Portions of branch 23 will be getting replaced.
  • CD36 (Butternut Valley Twp.)  We have remains of an old beaver dam and some sediment to clear out of a portion of the open ditch on this system.
  • JD48 (Butternut Valley Twp.)  We did some televising to a portion of the tile system.
  • JD36 (Butternut Valley Twp.)  We televised portions of branch 9, which we discovered more needed repairs for this system.
  • Now that harvest is done, or almost done for most growers, please remember to call in any public drainage system issues you discover while out in the field.  If you’re not certain that it’s a county drainage system issue, give me a call and we will be glad to verify it, in field.
  • We have multiple areas that we will be doing some sizeable repairs to tile lines.  Some of these repairs will be completed yet this year, hopefully.  We will also be televising some all tile line systems, primarily in Ceresco Township.  Many of these all tile systems have not been inspected in depth, since they where installed.   Inspecting tile lines isn’t always easy to do either as it requires specialized machines that are relatively new to the drainage world.
  • Please remember that repairs to county drainage systems must be repaired by qualified contractors.   All repairs need to be inspected by drainage staff before authorizing work.  Unauthorized work will be denied payment.  Call with questions on this matter.  

Special note, as I am making some annual inspections along areas of open ditches, I am noticing an increasing number of buffer violation areas.  Please remember that all 103E drainage systems are required to have a 16.5-foot buffer along the open ditch areas.  Wondering if your ditch falls into the 103E category, give me a call or email.


Do you have questions or topics about drainage that you would like to hear 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 Ryan, before any repairs are made.  We also do not allow any permanent or seasonal items to be placed in our open ditches or buffer areas.  These types of items would include rocks, fence posts, trailers or other agricultural equipment, just to mention a few items.  If you have questions or concerns with open ditches or buffers, please call.




Ryan Hiniker

Drainage Management Specialist