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Drainage Listserv

If you are interested in drainage topics, there is a new way to stay up to date. Two email listservs have been designed for drainage information:

  • The first is for drainage policy topics. Policy related updates to the Minnesota Public Drainage Manual; stakeholder Drainage Work Group consensus recommendations and reports; legislative activity related to drainage; etc.
  • The second listserv is focused on technical topics related to drainage. It will include drainage related research publications and articles, agency and university Drainage Management Team publications, etc.

You can choose to join either or both of the listservs by clicking here or going to the BWSR website main page to the “BWSR Media Center” and entering your email. If at any time you want to leave a listserv you can do so by reversing the process and unchecking your choice.

Drainage Work Group

The Drainage Work Group (DWG) was first established as a stakeholder group to advise the preparation of the Public Drainage Ditch Buffer Study, which was published by BWSR in February 2006. This Study Work Group discussed a range of topics regarding buffer strips and drainage and developed a number of consensus recommendations, which are presented in Section 6 of the study report. In 2006, the Study Work Group agreed to continue to meet as the stakeholder Drainage Work Group (DWG), with continued facilitation provided by the BWSR.

To view DWG fact sheet, meeting notes, consensus recommendations to the legislature, and associated documents, etc., click here.

Drainage Management Team

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The Drainage Management Team (DMT) is an interagency team comprised of staff members from state and federal agencies and academic institutions that meet regularly to coordinate and network regarding primarily agricultural drainage topics.

To view DMT fact sheet, charter, etc., click here.





Minnesota Public Drainage Manual

Minnesota Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment Logo

The Minnesota Public Drainage Manual (MPDM) is a guidance document for administration of drainage systems established and maintained in accordance with Minnesota Statutes Chapter 103E Drainage. The MPDM was first published in 1991 in a hard copy, three-ring binder. A legislative appropriation from the Clean Water Fund in 2014 enabled the MPDM to be updated and republished in 2016 in an online wiki format that greatly improves electronic access, search capabilities and ease of future updates. The MPDM has multiple audiences, including: Chapter 103E drainage authorities, drainage engineers, county auditors, attorneys, drainage inspectors, landowners, regulatory agencies, and other interested entities. The MPDM is a guidance document, not rule or law. Additional information about the MPDM, including the update and maintenance process is available in the introduction to the document. To access the Minnesota Public Drainage Manual, click here.

MPDM Outreach Workshops


  • April 27, 2017 - Willmar, MN
    • Agenda (includes presentations available for download)

Broad User

  • May 22, 2017 - Moorhead, MN
  • May 23, 2017 - St. Cloud, MN
  • May 25, 2017 - New Ulm, MN
    • Agenda (includes presentations available for download)

Multipurpose Drainage Management

From One Purpose…
Agricultural drainage originally had only one purpose: to remove excess water from farm fields to allow for crop production. Minnesota has some of richest farmland in the world, but most of it was originally too wet to farm. As a territory and early in its statehood, Minnesota’s growth was stimulated by draining the land. Today the state has thousands of public drainage systems (privately owned and publically administrated under M.S. Chapter 103 E Drainage Law) incorporating over 21,000 miles of ditches and an unknown number of miles of drain tile.  There are also hundreds of thousands of miles of private ditches and drain tile.

…To Many Purposes
Drainage still makes crop production possible. However, drainage impacts the way water, soil, and other materials move in the environment. Drainage water has and is impacting hydrology, water quality, and habitat. It has become clear that drainage must be managed for multiple purposes.

Multipurpose Drainage Management is the management of the drainage infrastructure “to reduce downstream peak flows and flooding; provide adequate drainage system capacity; reduce erosion and sedimentation; and protect or improve water quality.” (See Chapter 103E.015, Subd. 1). To accomplish these multiple purposes it is necessary to use the best science available to define the what, where, and how of best management practice (bmp) use. A number of resources are available for use by drainage authorities and their staff, landowners, local government units (LGUs), drainage engineers, and drainage inspectors.

BMP User Guides   

Other Resources


Drainage Records Modernization

There were three products of a 2014 LCCMR funded project entitled: Drainage Records Modernization & GIS Database Project. The first was the creation of a GIS database template with data standards for use by county and watershed district drainage authorities, their staff and consultants for public drainage systems administered under M.S. Chapter 103E Drainage. The second product was the establishment of a statewide GIS database that resides on the Minnesota Geospatial Commons and provides public access to drainage system hydrographic data (e.g., location, ditch or tile dimensions) from drainage authorities that use the template. This hydrographic data is for uses such as water management modeling, planning and implementation. The third product was an updated version of the Drainage Records Modernization Guidelines. All of these products can be accessed through the Minnesota Geospatial Commons or here on the BWSR website. You can watch the user webinar below to get an overview of the project and its products. Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund Logo

Click here to access the GIS Database Template Request Form

Click here for the updated Drainage Records Modernization Guidelines, 2016

Click here to access an example hydrographic database, from Waseca County, created using the GIS Database Template

Drainage Records Modernization User Webinar (12-19-16)

Drainage Related Grant and Loan Programs



Annual Ditch Buffer Strip Reporting


Calendar Year 2018 Reporting Request Letter - December 17, 2018

2018 Ditch Buffer Strip Annual Reporting Form

In 2007, the Minnesota Legislature added Section 103E.067 to drainage law requiring drainage authorities to submit a report to the Board of Water and Soil Resources providing information regarding public drainage ditch buffer strip establishment and inspection.

To access the current reporting form and previous years’ report summaries, click here.

Minnesota Drainage Law

Technical Information and Resources


Red River Retention Authority (RRRA) - Basin Technical Science Advisory Committee


Wetland Determination

Drainage Fact Sheets


Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155 | (651) 296-3767 | Fax (651) 297-5615 | TTY (800) 627-3529

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