Pennington County ditch fixes stabilize banks, stanch erosion

Landowners’ Clean Water Fund-backed side-water inlet work with county engineer, SWCD fixes erosion problems where field and county ditches meet, improves Red Lake River water quality

Pennington SWCD staff talk to contractor Ryan Anderson of Anderson Services in Newfolden at the site of side-water inlet work on the Pennington County Ditch 96 system near Thief River Falls. It’s part of gully control and buffer implementation on three county ditch systems, made possible with a Clean Water Fund grant from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. Photo Credits: Ann Wessel, BWSR
Pennington SWCD water plan coordinator Peter Nelson, left, visits the site of side-water inlet work on Nov. 6, 2019, with the SWCD’s resource technician Matthew Sorvig, center, and Manager Bryan Malone along the Pennington County Ditch 96 system near Thief River Falls. Malone is now the Becker SWCD manager and Nelson is now the Pennington SWCD manager.
Contractor Ryan Anderson of Anderson Services in Newfolden completed side-water inlet work on part of the Pennington County Ditch 96 system near Thief River Falls on Nov. 6, the last day of that year’s construction season. He took a moment to talk to Pennington SWCD staff.
The Pennington SWCD Clean Water Fund project will curb erosion by stabilizing sites on three county ditch systems. Pennington SWCD Manager Bryan Malone, top, and resource technician Matthew Sorvig lent scale to a gully cutting into a Pennington County field as SWCD water plan coordinator Peter Nelson prepared to cross the ditch. Malone is now the Becker SWCD manager and Nelson is now the Pennington SWCD manager.
The Pennington SWCD Clean Water Fund project will curb erosion by stabilizing spots where field ditches drain into county ditches. Flap-gates will prevent water from backing up from the county ditch through the culvert and into the field. (Flap-gates are no longer cost-shared. The county now covers those costs.)
A previously installed buffer illustrates some of the work planned through the Clean Water Fund grant. Buffers were made a part of the Pennington SWCD project to help stabilize the ditch system by preventing tillage up to or over the edge of a ditch. Buffers also help to ensure sprayers’ booms don’t extend into the ditch banks, killing vegetation, which can lead to bank instability and water-quality concerns.
The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources’ mission is to improve and protect Minnesota’s water and soil resources by working in partnership with local organizations and private landowners. www.bwsr.state.mn.us
Side-water inlets are designed to stop field erosion where drainage outlets into the county system, and to curb how much sediment flows into the Red Lake River, which is impaired downstream from Thief River Falls.

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Our mission is to improve and protect Minnesota’s water and soil resources by working in partnership with local organizations and private landowners.