Drainage update 11/24/2021
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.
- No upcoming public meetings or hearings.
Drainage Projects Approved by NRCS may not Meet State Wetland Conservation Act Requirements:
Driving around the county in the past couple of weeks, the Property and Environmental Resources Department has noticed quite a few tiling projects and other drainage projects happening. With this year’s dry conditions, it is conducive to installing tile in locations that may have traditionally be too wet in other years. These conditions are leading to several violations of the Wetland Conservation Act of Minnesota.
The Wetland Conservation Act was enacted in 1991 by bipartisan support to protect wetland areas through the state, but it was especially geared to southern Minnesota where greater than 80% of pre-settlement wetlands have been lost. The Wetland Conservation Act does have exemptions that allow for tiling of certain types of wetlands, if the wetland has been in production 8 of the last 10 years or 6 of the past 10 years prior to 1991.
The violations that the Property and Environmental Resources Department have been seeing recently is tile being installed in wetlands that does not meet the exemption criteria in the Wetland Conservation Act but does meet NRCS criteria for allowing tiling. In several cases, a basin that is labeled as previously converted non-wetland (PCNW) by NRCS does meet NRCS standards to be tiled but does not meet Wetland Conservation Act standards. On the NRCS letter there is a paragraph that states: “This determination applies to the 1985 Food Security Act (FSA), as amended. Other federal, state or local permits or restrictions may apply to activities impacting wetlands. It is the responsibility of participant to obtain other necessary permits. Contact the Army Corps of Engineers for clean water Act permits, the Local Government Unit (LGU) for State Wetland Conservation Act permits, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for protected water permits prior to initiating wetland activities. You can contact these agencies using the “Joint Application Form for Activities Affecting Water Resources in Minnesota” available from the LGU.”
Compliance with the 1985 Food Security Act does not mean that a project is compliant with The Wetland Conservation Act. If producers would like to ensure that their tiling project does meet the requirements of the Wetland Conservation Act they should contact Property and Environmental Resources Wetland Specialist Dane Lynch at (507) 304-4391 and set up a meeting to discuss if all areas meet the requirements for a Wetland Conservation Act exemption. For producers interested in learning more about what may be required and the materials that they should bring to the meeting please follow the link:
- JD17 (Garden City Twp.) No change from last time.
- JD14 (Judson Twp.) General contractor is down to their last new branch for the improvement project. Substantial completion should be done by the end of November, first part of December.
- JD15 (Jamestown Twp.) No change from last blog…expecting summer or fall of 2022 start date.
- JD15 (Lincoln Twp.) Tile reroute repair went very well, waters draining, and things are all fixed back up. The road, CSAH 32, located in Lincoln Township is back open.
Recent Drainage Inspections:
- JD36 (Cambria Twp.) One of our contractors replaced a portion of 8-inch tile to a portion of tile on this system. Repair went well and things are draining. More repairs where discovered when we made this repair, unfortunately.
- JD48 (Butternut Valley Twp.) Mowing of the buffer area is completed in the areas we needed.
- JD15 (Lincoln Twp.) Newly rerouted tile line is installed and functioning beautifully. Additional sink holes and issues where found while doing work to the new tile line, Branch 1 Lateral A, will need some additional work.
- CD28 (Lincoln Twp.) Mowing in certain areas has been completed.
- CD56 (Garden City Twp.) Additional engineering and tile exploration were needed to assess the situation with this branch. All indications are looking like a complete branch replacement is needed.
- Now that harvest is complete, 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 us 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 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, 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.
Drainage Management Specialist