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Mar 14

Ditch Happenings Feb. 29th - March 4th

Posted on March 14, 2016 at 10:16 AM by Acacia Wytaske

It was a beautiful day in Minnesota on Saturday, February 27th, 2016! Not only was the sun shining but I witnessed hundreds of people; farmers, agencies, investors, politicians, coming together to discuss solutions for Minnesota water quality. I had the privilege to be one of nearly 1000 attendees of the Governor's Water Summit at the St. Paul InterContinental Hotel.
I rode my bike (from a relative's house, not Mankato) to reserve parking and to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather.
The summit began with a welcome and remarks from Governor Mark Dayton. As he welcomed the attendees, the stage was overtaken by unexpected peaceful protestors from Honor the Earth. They asked Governor Dayton to meet with them after his speech to talk about Enbridge Pipelines. The peaceful protest was a clear statement: people are passionate about protecting MN waters.
After the welcome, we had 9 breakout sessions to choose from to participate in. I chose the "Living Cover" session to start. In this session the group broke off into 4 sub-groups for easier discussion and participation. Living Cover helps hold water on the landscape, filters contaminants and allows water to recharge aquifers while reducing runoff. One of my group members was a farmer that currently used cover crops of wheat and oats to help with wind erosion to protect his beet crop. I also had representatives from the Land Stewardship Project, the Southeast MN Water Resources Board and the MN Farm Bureau in my group. Excellent points were brought up from federal barriers preventing crop insurance when cover crops are used to programs available to address those barriers. As a group we brainstormed ways the Governor can advocate for the use of cover crops. Here's a picture of the 3rd page of our ideas.  Research funding was a reoccurring challenge I heard throughout the day. 
The second breakout session I attended was, "Water in the Rural Environment." Our group discussed nutrient and sediment reduction strategies, best management practices and cover crops.
After the breakout sessions a business panel was conducted by national and world renowned business executives from Dow Water and Process Solutions, The Mosaic Company, Tonka Water, Ecolab, and Pentair.
For complete details on the Governor's Water Summit, please follow this link: Water Summit resources and cited reports.

This week ISG Engineers and the Blue Earth Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) continued with the 4 informational meetings on the results from the targeted watershed grant awarded to the Blue Earth County Drainage Authority. On Wednesday, the CD05 (Danville & Medo Townships) and CD86 (Decoria & Beauford Townships) meetings were held in Mapleton.  Today, the Joint County JD116 (Pleasant Mound Township) meeting was held in Truman, MN. Documents distributed at these meetings will be available to view through the DrainageDB Portal next week.

The pre-construction meeting for CD78 (Vernon Center and Garden City Townships) was held yesterday at the offices of ISG Engineers. The contractor, Hulstein Excavating, will start the project on Monday, March 7th and is expecting to have the project complete by the end of April, weather permitting.


Stay informed by following the Blue Earth County Soil & Water Conservation District's 2015 Buffer Legislation Page. Here, you will find up-to-date information and helpful links.

Upcoming Drainage Events:

Next week ISG Engineers is hosting an Agricultural Drainage and The Future of Water Quality Workshop in Willmar, MN. 
Registration ($30) includes breakfast, lunch, and refreshments. There will also be a poster session with project highlights from local agencies.Workshop featuring agricultural drainage experts who will speak on critical topics including:
* Practical Designs that Make Sense – Affordable Options for Tight
* Budgets Minnesota Buffer Maps
* Water Works – Preparing Minnesota
* Lessons from the Field – Grass Lake Prairie Wetland Restoration Project
* Ditch Viewing: Redetermination of Benefits, Improvements, and Separable Maintenance
* Record Modernization
* Woodchip Bioreactors Saturated Buffers
* Monitoring BMPs
* Drainage Law, Buffer Law and Ditch Buffer Strips
* Fields To Streams Publication

Casey Wytaske
Taxpayer Service Specialist - Drainage & Taxation