• 2019 •
Farm Taps • Wind Farms • Campground Septic Systems
Health Care • SF 2419/ 2687 • Abandoned Underground Facilities
Minnesota Chapter of Land Improvement Contractors of America
Farm taps are private gas lines that carry natural gas from a pipeline to an end user. Many of these are in rural areas and were allowed as a consideration for easements when the pipeline was installed. Farm taps date back to the 1930’s. Up to 90% are unlocatable and many have not received scheduled maintenance. This creates a dangerous situation for persons excavating. A Gopher State One Call locate request will not result in markings as the lines are privately held and unlocatable.
Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation has proposed to assume ownership of the farm taps, installing new locatable lines and setting a tariff to pay for the new lines. The Public Utilities Commission and MERC are in the process of studying feasibility.
Mn LICA urges lawmakers to stay informed of the issue, and to support safer working conditions around farm taps.
Wind farms are being developed all over the state. With development, underground cables are being laid at a minimum depth of 42 inches, which is close to the depth at which drain tile and irrigation lines are installed. These lines are often located in agricultural fields, running from tower to tower, where most other utilities are in or near road rights-of-way. This would place wind farm cables above rural water lines, but below average installation depth of drain tile, irrigation lines and other utilizes.
To minimize the potential for conflicts and maximize safety, Mn LICA recommends establishing a minimum depth of 60 inches for underground power cables, communication lines, etc. associated with wind turbines when installed in agricultural fields.
Campground Septic Systems
Several years ago, the MPCA changed some rules that affected owners of multiple septic systems located on one property and within one half mile of each other. Campgrounds were particularly affected as they often utilized multiple small systems to treat septage. The new MPCA language made the multiple small systems to be treated as one system. Further, that measured flow or maximum design flow would be used, whichever was greater, when determining if a state discharge system permit would be required. This effectively required that an engineer would be required to design any system at those campgrounds, adding expense for no environmental benefit. MnLICA was notified, last summer, that the changes would no longer apply to seasonal campgrounds. However, the changes are still in force for year-round facilities.
MnLICA encourages legislators to stay informed on the subject and to work to assure that common sense is applied in this issue.
Affordable health care continues to be a problem for small businesses across Minnesota, such as the members of Mn LICA. High rates are often the norm, and compliance with the Affordable Care Act is complicated and expensive.
MnLICA urges legislators to look for options that would provide the health care options businesses and citizens need at reasonable costs.
SF 2419/HF 2687
When a public drainage system needs repair, problems can arise when an agency requires permission to be granted. While current drainage law spells out the right to repair these systems, the agency has required additional permission to be obtained. Often the permit process is unduly lengthy, causing additional damage before the repair takes place.
MnLICA urges passage of SF 2419/HF 2687, so that repairs can be completed in a reasonable time period, and that authorities can expect rulings from the agency in a timely manner.
Abandon Underground Facilities
As more utilities are upgraded, more abandoned lines are present in the ground. In areas there can be numerous active and abandoned lines near each other. For an excavator, it is a challenge to determine which lines are to be protected. If an excavator locates an abandoned line instead of the active line, damage is more likely to happen to the active line. While state law requires the notification that abandon lines are present, the problem is made worse as abandoned lines are cut, making them no longer traceable.
MnLICA encourages legislators to look for ways to make excavating safer in Minnesota, while protecting underground facilities.
While your beliefs and ours may not be exactly the same, we recognize that you are serving your district and state to make Minnesota better. We thank you for your service and encourage you to contact any of us if we can be of assistance to you.
MnLICA says, “Thank you for meeting with us today!”