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Sep 15

Drought Conditions, Not All Bad For River Monitoring

Posted on September 15, 2021 at 1:15 PM by Ryan Hiniker


Drainage update 9/15/2021



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.

  • CD77 (McPherson Twp.)  An upcoming hearing for this public drainage system will be held to discuss a Petition for Partial Abandonment and Reroute.  Affected landowners will be notified via U.S. Mail, about details of hearing date and time.
  • CD92 (Medo Twp.)  An Acceptance Hearing will be held for the completed project for this public drainage system.  Petitioned work for Partial Abandonment and Reroute to portions of the drainage system are substantially complete.  Landowners affected will receive notice via U.S. Mail.  Notice will include location, time and details of upcoming hearing.


Ongoing Drought and Low flow Conditions offer Rare Monitoring Opportunity of the Lower Minnesota River Watershed for the MPCA.


For the MPCA, the ongoing drought and low-flow conditions are a chance to do some rare monitoring. MPCA crews in August deployed equipment in the Lower Minnesota River in the Twin Cities area to check dissolved oxygen levels and other water quality parameters.

During a recent outing on the Minnesota River here locally, water levels were very low and are still falling slowly. Navigation on the river is very challenging with the amount of sand bars and log jams in the river channel. In some areas of the river channel are only mere inches deep. Currently, the river's water level is 2.26 feet in Mankato. On August 8th the water level was just 1.16 feet, being the lowest the Minnesota River has been since 2012. To put this into perspective in 2019 when the water was at its highest level, the river reached 26.24 feet.

This is the first time in nine years the agency has been able to check the river for fish and bugs under such stressful conditions. The monitoring will help determine whether limits put on phosphorus in wastewater discharges are working to protect the river during low-flow conditions, when wastewater effluent makes up more of the phosphorus concentration in the river. The MPCA expects to have results of the study by late this fall. For those that are interested in more information on the Lower Minnesota River Watershed it can be found on the MPCA’s website.







Project Updates:   

  • JD17 (Garden City Twp.)  Excited to say that all new hdpe tile is officially installed as of September 10, 2021.  Crews finished in record time, over 24,000 linear feet of new tile installed in around 60 days.  Thanks to an experienced crew and great weather, only a few small punch list items remain.  Some televising of the new tile is needed.
  • JD14 (Judson Twp.)  The contractor for this project is more than half-way completed.  We are confident that all new tile will be installed and things cleaned up this year.   
  • CD50 (Lincoln Twp.)  It’s been a little over a month since all the newly installed hdpe tile has been in the ground for portions of this drainage system.  We will have televising crews inspecting the new pipe this week.  A few checklist items remain, but otherwise this repair is just about finished.



Recent Drainage Inspections:

  • CD57 (Mapleton Twp.)  We had a contractor remove a beaver structure in the open ditch.  Some additional cleaning was needed in the open ditch and we jetted the concrete outlet pipe.  Things seem to be flowing better now.
  • CD95 (Mapleton Twp.)  Our beaver issues persist on a portion of open ditch.
  • JD48 (Butternut Valley Twp.)  Spoils from the spot cleaning have been leveled.  Hydroseeding on the disturbed side slopes was completed last week.
  • Mowing and spraying of open ditches is completed for this season.
  • JD48 (Butternut Valley Twp.)  Investigated a repair reported of a slough and buffer erosion issues.  This will hopefully be repaired shortly after harvest. 
  • 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 here 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.




Ryan Hiniker

Drainage Management Specialist