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Jan 30

Drainage Update 1/29/2018

Posted on January 30, 2018 at 7:36 AM by Michael Stalberger

 

Drainage update 1/29/2018

 

 

Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

·         On February 6th at 9:15 am in the Blue Earth County Commissioners' board room, we will be having the CD28 final acceptance hearing and final engineering report.  The hearing is located in the second floor of the Historic Courthouse at 204 S. 5th St, Mankato MN 56001.  Affected landowners should have received notice by mail at least 10 days prior to the hearing date.

 

Project Updates:

  

  • No project updates at this time.  All projects are shut down for the winter season.  Spring will be a very busy time for drainage as we will have two, possible three, major projects. 

 

Drainage Minutes:

I was fortunate enough to make it out to the MN AG Expo this past week.  The attendance on Wednesday was great, especially after getting all that snow just days before the show.  Lots of vendors to talk with and get information from.  There was a multitude of vendors - from the U of MN, to tile contractors, to the SWCD, and even attorneys - were all there representing their professions.

I made it to two different seminars.  The first seminar was about pollinators (bees) and the effects that agriculture has on this industry.  This seminar was a panel style ag expodiscussion with three people on the panel representing different perspectives of the pollinator world and agricultural industry.  One gentleman on the panel was a commercial beekeeper - making honey is his livelihood.  The second person on the panel was a woman from a U of MN pollinator and bee research group.  The third person was a gentleman from Bayer Crop Sciences that represented the agricultural chemical side of things.

I thought the discussion was very well thought out and flowed great.  There was no finger pointing or blaming from any side.  There is a need for newer and safe miticides to keep the bee populations steady, as well as a need to increase habit for pollinators.  These habitats need to include wildflower mixes that are conducive to producing flowers with more pollen to make them more appealing to commercial bees.  It was very interesting to learn how small the number of commercial bee farmers is, considering how significant their role.  In southern states with some of the crops they grow, bees and pollination are the keys to their businesses.  They would not survive without bees.

ag expo 3My second seminar was about renewable energy, or solar energy.  The group speaking, again in a panel style setting, was from Blue Horizon Energy.  This is a very hot topic around our area lately.  Many have gotten on board with the solar gardens movement, and have invested in solar gardens.  The topic covered everything from installation to tax credits and even information to landowners looking to install panel sites.  The members of the panel expressed their thoughts that they think that in just a short time, almost 50% of our power will come from solar energy.  They talked like solar energy power isn’t a short-term solution, but a long-term answer to energy issues. 

They spoke of how much the industry helps the economy, both from an employment standpoint as well as the tax money it brings to the state.  We have many solar fields going up around Mankato.  It’s getting to the point you can’t hardly drive in any direction from Mankato and not see at least one solar garden.  Many local residents in Mankato and surrounding communities have taken advantage of the energy savings by joining these solar garden communities.  It was a very interesting discussion and was well worth my time.

I came across an interesting article about wetlands and how huge their role is in reducing nitrates.  It is a study put out by the University of Minnesota.  It’s no hidden secret that wetlands are very beneficial in reducing sediment and other pollutants from reaching our rivers and streams.  This is one of the first studies looking for the direct impact that wetlands have on nitrate level reductions from rivers and streams.  In our heavy farm country of southern Minnesota, many wetlands have been removed or altered, and in doing so, we have lost some of our natural filtering ability.

The study conducted in southwestern Minnesota showed that wetlands can be five times more effective at reducing nitrates over other conservation methods.  Even in areas where very few wetlands remain, the study speaks of the benefits of adding or installing wetlands along drainage systems.  I hope that we will have more and more voluntary wetlands being put back in along some of our drainage systems. 

Every time we (Blue Earth County Drainage) have a new large-scale repair or improvement project, we look at the option of adding wetlands to certain areas that would be beneficial to the drainage system and water quality.  People and landowners are starting to see the benefits of wetlands, and that also in some situations they can even get paid to have them.  This is a very good article worth the time to read it.  
https://www.mprnews.org/story/2018/01/29/u-of-m-study-wetlands-key-to-reducing-nitrates-in-rivers

 

Recent Drainage Inspections – week of January 22 – January 26:

 

  • No inspection as of last week, inspections are usually fairly quiet this time of year.
  • Busy getting all last-minute tax levies finished for 2018 taxes.

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.

 

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 myself, before any repairs are made.

 


 

 

Ryan Hiniker

Drainage Management Specialist

ryan.hiniker@blueearthcountymn.gov

507-304-4264