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Drainage Work Group

The Drainage Work Group (DWG) was first established as a stakeholder group to advise the preparation 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, associated documents, and consensus recommendations to the legislature, 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

The Minnesota Public Drainage Manual was first published in 1991 and subsequently updated and republished in 2016 to provide guidance to drainage authorities as they administrate Chapter 103E drainage systems. The Manual has multiple audiences: drainage authorities, their engineers, attorneys and inspectors; landowner’s; regulatory agencies; and other interested parties. It is a guidance document and is not rule or law. To access the updated Minnesota Public Drainage Manual, click here.


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 impact 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 (or are coming available) for use by drainage authorities and their staff, landowners, local government units (LGUs), drainage engineers, and drainage inspectors.

BMP User Guides   

Other Resources


Statewide Drainage Related Projects

Minnesota Public Drainage Manual MPDM) Update Project (ended 10/31/16)

BWSR received a legislative appropriation and direction in the FY14-15 biennium to update the Minnesota Public Drainage Manual (MPDM) (published in 1991) and the Understanding Minnesota Public Drainage Law (UMPDL) document (published by the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) in 2002).

To access the updated Minnesota Public Drainage Manual, click here.

Drainage Records Modernization & GIS Database (DRMGD) Project (to end 12/31/16)

This project is funded by a 2014 LCCMR grant. The purposes of the project are to:

1) develop 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;

2) enable accessibility to all for uses such as water management modeling, planning and implementation, including the possibility of future periodic collection of data from drainage authority users of the standard template into a statewide database;

3) update the Drainage Records Modernization Guidelines, Sept. 2008; and make the database, guidelines and data available via a web-based, public data portal such as the Minnesota Geospatial Commons.

Click here for the updated Drainage Records Modernization Guidelines, 2016

  1. For more Information, click here.

Drainage Related Grant and Loan Programs



Annual Ditch Buffer Strip Reporting

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 previous years’ reports and the original Ditch Buffer Strip Study, click here.

Technical Information and Resources

Red River Basin Watershed Management (RRWMB)Board Basin Technical Science Advisory Committee

Minnesota Drainage Law


Wetland Determination

Drainage Fact Sheets


Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

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