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Feb 24

Fooled by Mother Nature, Minnesota style

Posted on February 24, 2017 at 4:08 PM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 2/24/2017

Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

No upcoming hearings or meetings.

Project Updates:

  • CD98 (Mankato Twp.)  DMI Construction crews made quick work of this project and for the most part, minus some grass seeding, this project is done. 
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  No construction work happened this week on site.  We have been monitoring water levels on the open ditch portions and also in the drop intakes on the old metal pipe of this system.  Water levels did come up quite quickly this last week, in part from the rains of Monday, but also from a new and different possible obstruction in the old metal pipe.  We are talking with the contractor to get him going on site to keep installing the new pipe as soon as possible.  We will continue to monitor this situation with the water levels.  We do believe that we have a fairly good idea of where the possible blockage is.  We will explore this area as soon as the contractor is officially back on site for the season to continue work.cd28 pipe

Lingering issues with the buffer law, concerns from landowners and farmers:

I recently read an article on MPR news online about Minnesota farmers who are not happy with some provisions of the Buffer Law.  Many farmers have private ditches on their farms.  Some of these private ditches were added to the MN DNR (Department of Natural Resources) Public Waters Inventory list or PWI.  At the time the list was created in the 1980’s, being listed didn’t pose much of a problem for farmers or landowners.

Now that the new law is using the PWI maps and list, farmers and landowners now will have to take out of production 50 foot strips along both sides of waterways that are on the PWI list. 
Only natural watercourses are supposed to be on the PWI list, but there are errors on these lists, including some even in Blue Earth County where ditches that should not be labeled a natural watercourse or be part of the Public Waters Inventory are included.

If you think that a waterway on your property was added to the PWI list in error, call the DNR and let them know your concern.  Be prepared and have proof of the ditch’s history ahead of time to help prove that it was in fact an error. 

We are seeing lately in the state legislature that there is still some unrest with the Buffer Law.  There is currently a bill trying to come through the legislature that would block the Governor’s start date of the law until a full compensation plan for the acres coming out of production is worked out.  Currently there are very few ways to be compensated for this buffer land.  One way is to have a ROB (redetermination of benefits) done on the drainage system for public drainage systems.  We in the drainage department are being told from BWSR and DNR officials that even after these buffer laws take effect, we can still go back and reimburse landowners through this ROB process for the buffer strip areas.  There is no statute of limitation or time frame for this reimbursement to expire.  This reimbursement through the ROB process is allowed under Chapter 103E drainage law.

I believe that these buffers will still happen, but it is not clear what the Legislature may do this year and whether the Governor will agree.  Time will tell and we will have to wait and see how this all plays out this year.


Recent Drainage Inspections – week of February 20 – February 24:

  • CD56 (Garden City Twp.)  Inspected areas of repairs made to the system at multiple locations.jd20 repair
  • JD20 (Lyra Twp.)  Inspected multiple areas in the same section that needed minor repairs to this all tile system. The picture to the right is of the sink hole that needs to be repaired.
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  Like I mentioned in the project updates section, we’ve been monitoring the water levels rising again on the open ditch areas and in the tile manhole areas of the old metal pipe.
  • CD69 (Mankato Twp.)  This county public drainage system actually outlets into an area controlled by the City of Mankato.  The area of the outlet has had some issues in the past with plugging up.  Water levels in this outlet area have been rising lately, so I’m paying attention to see if we in fact have some issues again with this plugging up and restricting drainage.


Upcoming Drainage Inspections:

  • JD38 (Sterling Twp.)
  • CD56 (Garden City Twp.)
  • JD49 (Sterling Twp.)
  • CD78 (Vernon Center Twp.)
  • CD01 (McPherson Twp.)
  • CD93 (Decoria Twp.)


Please call with issues you observe on our public drainage system, as there is a lot of open ditch and tile in our county and only two of us in the drainage department.  We will do our absolute best to service your issues and concerns as we receive them.




Ryan Hiniker
Drainage Management Specialist