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Oct 05

Water Conservation Going High-tech

Posted on October 5, 2021 at 3:59 PM by Ryan Hiniker


Drainage update 10/5/2021



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.

  • JTD83 (McPherson Twp.)  We will be hosting an acceptance hearing for the completed construction repair work to portions of this public drainage system.  Affected landowners should receive notice of hearing via U.S. Mail.   Notice will include details of times and locations for the hearing.
  • CD89 (Pleasant Mound Twp.)  We will be hosting a hearing to discuss a Redetermination of Benefits, as well as a proposed repair.  Notices will be sent to affected landowners.  Notice will include details of times and locations for the hearing. 
  • CD75 (Pleasant Mound & Shelby Twps.)  We will host a public hearing to discuss the Redetermination of Benefits for this public drainage system.   Affected landowners will receive notice via U.S. Mail. Notice will include details of times and locations for the hearing. 


High-Tech Tools Helping Conserve Water Even In Times Of Drought:


I came across an interesting read about a farmer in Pope County who is using his education and some high-tech tools to help him get the upper hand with water usage and conservancy on his farms.  Jake Wildman is the farmer sighted in the article, he farms with his father and uncle near Glenwood.  Pope County is in the west central part of Minnesota.

This part of the state is known for sandier, lighter soils, which can produce some great row-crops with the assistance of irrigation.  Some of the major crops for this area are corn, soybeans, potatoes, editable beans and some sugar beets.

In a year with severe drought in this part of the state, water conservation and high-tech tools are a must have.  Mr. Wildman uses a soil moisture probe, both a portable one and a stationary one, to check his fields and manage his soil moisture levels.   When moisture levels get low, growers in this area of the state rely on the use of irrigation to water their crops.   Irrigation involves pumping ground water through irrigation structures to precisely distribute water to crops.   Around 600,000 acres of cropland in Minnesota depend on irrigation to grow quality crops.  

These irrigation systems are monitored and permitted through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  Permitted growers actively work with the DNR to track water needs, usage and future demand concerns.  The process of permitting the irrigation usage is in hopes of preserving some aquafers from running dry and protecting these wells for future generations. Suspension of permits in this dry year did happen, but those permits, approximately 230 of them, where permits that asked to use surface waters like lakes and rivers.

Growers in these areas of irrigation have a true concern for conservation of their wells for future usage.  Many growers use some pretty high-tech irrigation equipment that is all computerized.  Growers can use predicted weather data, soil moisture data and collected rainfall data, to adjust their irrigation systems.  Growers can adjust their irrigation systems from their smart phone, in some cases.   The newer irrigation technologies are centered around water conservation.  Using technology and different sprinkler heads to deliver precision irrigation to multiple parts of a given field.

The misnomer that farmers are just wasting water through irrigation systems is just that, a misnomer.  Farmers like Jake are working to educate folks on how they are using water to grow better crops, using less water, and using the water to its utmost efficiency, using precision irrigation products.  Interested in reading the full article or others like this follow the provided link.


Project Updates:   

  • JD17 (Garden City Twp.)  This project is near complete.  Much of the new hdpe tile line has been televised.  A small list of items still remain before we close this project out.
  • JD14 (Judson Twp.)  Nothing new to report about this project from last posting.  We are still very hopeful that this project will be wrapped up this year.   
  • CD50 (Lincoln Twp.)  This repair is completed and all televising has been done.  We did find a few minor things that will be corrected this fall.  Minus a few items found during televising, there is just a few “check-list” items to complete as well.  All repairs should be completed and wrapped us this year.



Recent Drainage Inspections:

  • CD57 (Mapleton Twp.)  We still have on-going issues with beavers.  We did some jetting of a tile line, some televising, and will hopefully be doing some fall cleaning of open ditch and sediment pond area.
  • CD95 (Mapleton Twp.)  Our beaver issues persist to a portion of open ditch.
  • JD15 (Lincoln Twp.)  We, along with our Blue Earth County Highway Department, plan on rerouting a current tile line.  This old, original tile line happens to run under a current county road.  The deteriorating tile line has caused some issues with the road and safety in the recent past.  The decision was made to abandon the old line and relocate a new line out of the actual road surface area.
  • We have multiple areas that we will be doing some sizeable repairs to tile lines.  Some of these repairs will be done this year, hopefully.  We will also be televising some tile line systems, primarily in Ceresco Township.  Many of these tile systems have not been inspected in depth, since they where installed.   Inspecting tile lines isn’t always easy to do either, as it requires specialized machines that are relatively new to the drainage world.
  • Open ditch and tile inspections will be resuming as crops are coming out at a record setting pace.
  • 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.  cd28 buffer violation Open ditch inspections are happening again as crops are coming out.  One example of a buffer violation.  

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.




Ryan Hiniker

Drainage Management Specialist