All posts by Dean Sunderlin

Rice County Soil and Water District has a new small seeding drill you can rent.

The Rice County Soil and Water District has a few items that can be borrowed or rented for seed planting, tree pruning, and buckthorn removal.  They have asked up to let you know of a new addition to their inventory.  A Dew Drop Drill is now available to rent. This drill can be pulled by any ATV or small tractor.  It is great for many purposes including food plots, buffer strips, CRP, and pollinator habitat. It has a 3 ft. seeding width and can handle a large variety of seed types.  Rental fee is $90 per day.

To see all the items available to rent or borrow please click on this link.


Prescott Drainage System Repaired

On or about June 16, 2014, a drainage system contractor working for Tony Gillen, who leases and farms the Leonard Prescott field west of the Wolf Creek inlet to the lake, repaired the drainage system CLA had installed in that field in 2008.  The failure was reported in a previous post dated 4/1/13.  Earlier, Doug Sonnee and I attempted to find the blockage to the Basin 1 outlet drain tile.  We thought we found the block about 40 feet up from the outlet, but Doug’s camera was not working, so we couldn’t determine the type of blockage, i.e. crushed pipe, varmint nest, etc.  Later, Dave Russler and I tried to excavate the soil covering the section of the tile where the block was suspected, but we kept accidentally snagging and destroying the tile.  So we gave up and asked Tony to ask his drainage contractor, who was working in another of Tony’s fields, to take a look and see what he could do.  The contractor subsequently investigated and discovered that tree roots had grown into the tile, because the original installation contractor had failed to switch to non-perforated tile where the line is buried close to trees.  So he replaced the last 50 feet of perforated (and root-plugged) tile with “non-perf” tile.  His bill was $165, for about an hour’s work.  The repair was completed just prior to a heavy rainstorm, and Tony said the system worked perfectly.  Problem solved!

We will keep a close watch on the other drains, in case they also have perforated tile where they shouldn’t, and become root-clogged as well. since CLA is committed to maintaining the system for 15 years, a condition we accepted to obtain the landowner’s and lessee’s permission to install the system.

Prescott Drainage System West of Wolf Creek Inlet Damaged

On Saturday, March 30, the warmest day of the year so far, I checked the drainage flow rate from the drainage system CLA installed on L. Prescott’s farm fields west of the Wolf Creek Inlet in 2008.  I checked it where it flows into the culvert under Cyrus Trail.  The flow was heavy, but not dangerously so.  But it was slightly turbid, not its usual near spring quality.  See the following movie file: Drainage System Outflow.

So I decided to investigate.  I moved upstream to the Basin 4 standpipe.  For a map of the basins, look at Figure 4 in the Lake Improvement Projects Post called Cyrus Trail Ravine Project.  The Basin 4 standpipe looked like it was functioning normally, with its flow running at about 20% capacity.  See the movie file: Basin 4 Standpipe.  There was no water standing in Basin 4.

I moved further upstream, to the Basin 3 tile outlet.  It was running at full capacity.  See movie file Basin 3 Outlet.  This outlet, along with the outlet from Basin 4, empty into the top of the ravine.

I continued up to the head of the ravine, to Basin 3.  This basin was full, with the water level within 2 feet from the top of the berm!  See the file Basin 3.  Only the top 2 inches of the standpipe were visible and the pool extended north into the next field.  I noticed an ephemeral gully forming uphill from the Basin 3 pool and followed it to its source.  There was water springing from the ground in the middle of the field in two spots that appeared to be immediately above the buried drain tile line from Basin 1.  Here are movies of Blowout 1 and Blowout 2.  Then I checked the Basin 1 Outlet, which delivers its water to the head of a wooded gully to the north.  It’s flow was minimal; much less than the flow rates from the other basin outlets.

I walked up hill to the west to check the condition of Basin 1.  This basin was also full; almost overflowing.  Its standpipe was completely under water.  The water level was within 2 feet of the road which forms its berm.

I believe there is a blockage in the Basin 1 drain tile line between the blowouts and the outlet.  This partial blockage raises the pressure in the line upstream from the block, causing the water to leak from the line at joints or holes in the tile.  Because of this partial obstruction, Basin 1 cannot drain fast enough to keep up with the snow melt runoff.  Also, because of the leakage from the Basin 1 drain, water from that basin is adding to the Basin 3 pool, so it cannot drain fast enough to keep up with the amount of water flowing into it.

If this problem is not fixed, Basins 1 and 3 could overflow their banks, washing away their containment berms and thus washing large amounts of silt down the ravine and into Circle Lake.  The large rush of water will also tear out the vegetation in the bottom of the ravine, thus adding to the ravine’s erosion and adding to the silt flowing into the lake.

I will contact NRCS, SWCD and the land leaseholder to determine the best course of action.


New Watershed Erosion Control Projects – McGhie & Betts Engineering Firm Retained

LUNDSTROM 2×3 GULLY MAP w Diagrams reducedThe engineering firm McGhie & Betts has been retained to identify critical water & soil erosion areas in the Circle Lake watershed, then to design erosion control structures for those areas and assist in the preparation of grant applications for the funding of a number of projects for their construction .  To date, they have identified four high-priority areas where the landowners have committed to working with CLA to correct or mitigate the erosion problem.  Figure 1, shown below, identifies a number of areas, by virtue of their slope, soil type and surface use, are defined as “critical” areas, i.e. are likely erosion sources.  Figures 2 through 5 show the critical areas in greater detail.  Click on the figure titles below to display:

The four high-priority areas have been selected as the first erosion mitigation projects to be proposed, funded and completed.  McGhie & Betts have agreed to prepare grant applications for each project and to work with the granting agencies to secure funding.  The four project’s names are:

  • Nugent – County Ditch #32
  • Lundstrom – Ravine
  • Boulay – Ravine
  • Trnka – Ravine

Their site maps are shown in Figures 6, 7, 8 and 9, respectively.  Click on the figure numbers to display.


The first project’s design, the Nugent County Ditch, is shown in Figure 9.