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Apr 07

Alternative Ideas For Buffers and Road Authorities in ROB's

Posted on April 7, 2017 at 3:48 PM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 4/7/2017


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings: 

No upcoming drainage hearings or meetings

Project Updates: 

  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  Geislinger and Sons (contractor) was still working on cleaning the open ditch on this system this week.  The contractor did start this week with installing new pipe for this improvement project.  Geislinger had two crews installing pipe and the one crew cleaning the openGeislinger 04052017 ditch.  The two pipe crews installed around 1,500 linear feet of new 48” pipe this week.  If Mother Nature can cooperate with us, the contractor should be able to keep up the good pace.  There will be a couple road crossings that involve boring pipe under the road surface coming up.
  • CD01 (McPherson Twp.)  Rehnelt Excavating is replacing two culverts under two different ditch crossings that needed repair from last year’s storms.


Drainage Minutes:

I attended the first Minnesota Viewers meeting of the year at Morton this week.  The topic of this meeting was road authorities and how to assess the benefits and damages for ditch systems.  It was very interesting to listen to how the viewers are taking different approaches to make these benefits and costs more up-to-date.  

Many of the drainage systems, speaking for our county, have old Benefits Listings.  As we are ordering new ROB’s (Redetermination of Benefits), these issues of road authority benefits and other issues are being discussed and remedied.  Many times when we do a new ROB, we find out that some landowners have taken acres and tile out of the watershed they are listed in, or new ones have come in.  Those are all issues that need to be addressed as this has a big effect on how many acres and dollars are paying into the system for maintenance, repairs and improvements.  As always if there are questions or concerns with watershed issues or benefits please call and discuss it with us at the drainage office.

Additional Alternative Practices That Offer Flexibility:

I read an interesting article this week about how BWSR (Board of Water and Soil Resources) is rolling out flexible alternative practice ideas to meet water quality improvement standards.  They highlighted six examples in this article, but the truth is there are a large number of things that would probably qualify instead of just a grassed buffer along a ditch.

SWCD’s and the NRCS have been working with many landowners in preparation for the pending deadline this fall for public water systems to have their buffer established.  BWSR knows that it’s not a one-size-fits-all type situation, so they are offering up ideas to alternative water quality practices that may custom fit a landowner's operation.  Since the buffer law came about, there have been a lot of ideas on how to get this done and how to make it fit everywhere.   The six ideas that BWSR published came from a work group made up of farmers, SWCD’s and other agricultural groups.  They are as follows:

  1. MN Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program
  2. USDA Practice Standard Filter Strip
  3. Grassed Waterways on Public Waters
  4. Negative grade slope on Public Ditches
  5. Negative grade slope on Public Waters
  6. Buffers plus other conservation tillage

This is just a sample list of things one could do on their land, we're not saying this works for all situations.  This is more to spur the idea that other things can be done to meet water quality goals without just a plain grass stip.

With 40 percent of the state’s waters listed as polluted or impaired, this clean water initiative has purpose.  Legislative actions are still going on with this buffer law, so we will have to stay tuned to see what comes out of these proposed possible changes.  Contacting your local SWCD office is a great place to start with questions and concerns.  I know I personally try to stay in touch with them and they have always been very helpful with answering my questions or concerns.  

To read this article yourself or to check out other things with water quality, check out the 
BWSR website.   

Recent Drainage Inspections – week of April 3 – April 7:

  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.)  I stopped in to check on progress of pipe installation and ditch cleaning.
  • CD56 (Garden City Twp.)  I meet with a landowner who had some concerns about the repair scheduled for this year.  We have had a few landowner concerns especially in town where there are many trees and structures that may be a concern when clearing 16.5 feet along the open ditch.
  • JD15 (Lincoln Twp.)  Inspected more sink hole and tile issues on this old concrete system.
  • CD05 (Medo Twp.)  Looked at some potential issues with one of our crossings that may need some future maintenance.
  • CD74 (Ceresco Twp.)  Inspected issues with sink holes from concrete tile separating and sucking soil into tile.  Photo showing multiple sink holes. cd74 sink holes                   
  • JD40 (Shelby Twp.)  Old intake structure on an old system that is in need of repair.

Upcoming Drainage Inspections:

  • JD38 (Sterling Twp.)
  • CD56 (Garden City Twp.)
  • JD49 (Sterling Twp.)
  • CD78 (Vernon Center Twp.) partial
  • CD01 (McPherson Twp.)
  • CD83 (McPherson Twp.)
  • CD74 (Ceresco Twp.)
  • JD28 (Decoria Twp.)
  • CD56 (Lincoln Twp.)
  • CD05 (Danville 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.

Please remember: We require that all repairs to a county drainage system (tile or open ditch) be authorized by one us in the drainage office, before any repairs are made.


Ryan Hiniker
Drainage Management Specialist