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Minnesota Drainage: Completing Watershed Projects Through Agency and Advocacy Group Cooperation

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

Citation:  2016 10th International Drainage Symposium Conference, 6-9 September 2016, Minneapolis, Minnesota  .(doi:10.13031/IDS.20162492909)
Authors:   Craig Austinson
Keywords:   Agriculture, best management practices, ditch, drainage, drainage authority, cooperation, nutrients, peak flows, quality, storage, total suspended solids, water quality

Abstract. The interaction between drainage authorities, various government agencies, and advocacy groups can make or break a public drainage project.  The purpose of this presentation is to convey a local perspective on how Minnesota Drainage Law can both constrain and facilitate those relationships, and their impact on public drainage projects completed under Minnesota Stature 103E. 


Currently, there is a push for the treatment of waters as part of a public drainage project.  Adding practices to reduce peak flows or to improve water quality is not a simple process. Minnesota drainage law was originally written to promote the drainage of wetlands.  Before a drainage project can be approved the petitioners must prove it is economically feasible. Correcting misunderstandings regarding the restrictions of drainage law is often a major part of conversations with agency personnel and those representing advocacy groups.


Blue Earth County has had some success incorporating treatment practices into our improvement and repair projects. Using examples from past projects, we will discuss how we resolved or avoided conflicts enabling projects to move forward. Attendees will be able to take these lessons learned and apply them to many of their own projects.

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