Click on “Download PDF” for the PDF version or on the title for the HTML version.

If you are not an ASABE member or if your employer has not arranged for access to the full-text, Click here for options.


Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  701P0304,  . (doi: 10.13031/2013.15741)
Authors:   B.C. Atherton, L.C. Brown, N.R. Fausey, and F.J. Hitzhusen
Keywords:   Agricultural drainage, group drainage, drainage districts, ditch maintenance, drainage benefits

Ohio law specifies procedures that allow groups of landowners to organize for the construction and maintenance of drainage improvements with the assistance of either the county engineer or the local soil and water conservation district. These multiple-landowner or group drainage improvements have been constructed since the mid-1800s and were essential for the development of much of Ohio. In the last 30 years, legislation and rule making have placed limits on the drainage of jurisdictional wetlands.

A survey of county engineers and soil and water conservation districts was conducted to determine the current demand for new group drainage improvements benefiting multiple landowners and quantify the amount of construction actually undertaken. Using a small group of individual open ditch projects, construction costs among the three legal authorities were compared.

This study found that demand for these group drainage improvements remains high. For the years 1994-96, landowners in 37 Ohio counties requested assistance for an average of 150 drainage improvements annually, using all three legal authorities available. A total of 342 group drainage improvements costing over $9.5 million were constructed during this three-year period. Nearly 310 km of open ditch improvements were constructed benefiting 58 350 ha of land.

Thirty-eight agencies each provided detailed information concerning a single ditch project constructed during the period 19881992. The three most important reasons given for constructing these open ditches were: 1) provide an adequate outlet for subsurface drains; 2) to improve crop production; and 3) to place the ditch on the county maintenance program. Construction costs ranged from $8.34/ha to $2,528.91/ha ($3.38/ac to $1,031.02/ac) and $1,888.13/km to $177,298.73/km ($3,038.85/mi to $25,367.56/mi).

It is apparent that landowners continue to see a great need for improved drainage, and are able to accomplish these improvements in spite of legislative and regulatory limitations.

(Download PDF)    (Export to EndNotes)