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Sep 09

International Drainage Symposium

Posted on September 9, 2016 at 4:01 PM by Ryan Hiniker


Drainage update 9/9/2016

Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:


Project updates:

  • CD34 (Judson Twp.) very little tile was installed this week, but crews worked in-between downpours to get what they could installed.
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  Crews were back on-site Tuesday of this week.  They are working on cleaning up the site after major rain events.  Pipe installation, barring Mother Nature, is set to continue next week.  Additional contractors will be on-site next week to meet to figure a game plan on how to “dewater” all the areas that are flooded with standing water.  This “dewatering” has to happen so the crews can push on with installing the new pipe that will replace the failed metal pipe. 

10th International Drainage Symposium:
international drainage symposium

I was fortunate enough to attend the International Drainage Symposium this Wednesday and Thursday (9/7 and 9/8) held in Minneapolis.  The symposium was a huge wealth of information.  Folks from all over the globe were in attendance.  Some of the countries that attended include; Sweden, Norway, Netherlands and Denmark, to name a few.

One of the sessions I attended was presented by Ingrid Wesström from Uppsala Sweden.  She spoke a few times in different sessions about multiple topics.  It was very interesting to listen to her speak about how they approach their open ditch and tile issues.  Much of their storm sewers empty into public tiles or open ditch systems.  This of course puts tremendous stress on the drainage system, because it was not designed to handle that volume of water. There are also very old, aging systems in Sweden. 

Ingrid spoke about an infield tool that they use to make assessments on their open ditch systems when there are issues.  MADRA, this stands for Minnesota Agricultural Ditch Reach Assessment.  This tool is a score systems approach to quantify the severity of the issue and also how to prioritize it and further remedy the issue.  I found it interesting that many other countries including Sweden are looking at what we are doing in Minnesota for guidance on their issues with drainage.

There were many other topics discussed, but a vast majority of the talks centered on nutrients in the water and how to clean up these Nitrates and Phosphorus particles for cleaner water.  Many of these studies to clean up the nutrients included some sort of buffer placed in between farm land and stream.  Saturated buffers was a practice that was recognized along with intelligent buffer zones, and also man-made wet lands.  The general theory behind all three of these is to let the plant life and microorganisms do the hard work of removing the phosphorus and nitrates, while also collecting sediment that was suspended in the water. 

There is no silver bullet that will get 100% of all the nutrients and sediment in the water as of yet.  It is encouraging to know that many countries, states and counties are doing much of the same experiments to see what does work and what doesn’t.  Many of the BMP’s (best management practices) that we are currently using and installing in our state and county, are being looked at and tried in other countries.  The woodchip bioreactor was a center spotlight piece for many countries; they were very interested to see what sort of continuing data comes from these in the United States, more so in the Midwest.

This group of more than 200 people that attended the symposium were set to have a field day tour today at our very own Blue Earth County ditch CD57 (Mapleton Twp.) out on the site.  Mother Nature threw more rain our way so the tour was moved indoors for this stop.  CD57 has gained national and international attention for its innovative design and use of multiple BMP’s on one system that is a large watershed. 

Some of the innovative BMP’s at the time it was constructed include; sediment and water storage pond, check dams, two-stage ditch, and wetland based buffer areas.  The sediment pond has worked better than anyone had expected it to.  There is lots of testing going on with the water entering and exiting the sediment pond, and the results are amazing at how well it’s doing at removing sediment and nutrients from the water.  It will continue to get monitored for quite some time, but that’s what’s needed when you’re looked at as a leader in this field. 

Blue Earth County is very well respected by all in the world of drainage. 

drainage symposium pic. 2
One of the many break-out sessions at the International Drainage Symposium

Recent Drainage Inspections – week of September 5 – September 9:

No ditch inspections this week due in part to Mother Nature and also a very busy schedule with the drainage symposium.  I have some repairs scheduled to go look at for next week.  With the recent large rain falls again this week, please be sure to notify our office with any concerns that you may know of on our ditch and tile systems.

Upcoming Drainage Inspections:

  • CD27 (Butternut Valley Twp.)
  • JD38 (Sterling Twp.)
  • JD49 (Sterling Twp.)
  • CD78 (Vernon Center Twp.)
  • CD01 (McPherson Twp.)

Ryan Hiniker
Drainage Management Specialist