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Minnesota Public Drainage Manual Update

Summary of the Minnesota Public Drainage Manual Update Project

  • BWSR received a legislative appropriation and direction in the FY14-15 biennium to update the Minnesota Public Drainage Manual (MPDM) and the Understanding Minnesota Public Drainage Law (UMPDL) document.
  • The 4 original and 3 additional objectives (paraphrased) for the MPDM include:
    • promote uniformity in the interpretation of Minnesota drainage law, without speculating as to what drainage law ought to say;
    • inform about the interaction between drainage law and other laws, state and federal;
    • suggest uniform procedures for implementing drainage law statewide;
    • provide standardized forms for use in drainage proceedings;
    • create a web-based, user-friendly and easily updated version;
    • provide enhance guidance related to multipurpose water management considerations and authorities in drainage law;
    • provide guidance in a new chapter regarding implementation of BMPs for drainage projects and systems.

    The additional objectives include updating the MPDM to reflect changes in drainage law and associated law since the document was first published in 1991.

  • Through an RFP process, BWSR contracted with the team of Houston Engineering, Inc. and Rinke Noonan Attorneys to update the MPDM and integrate the UMPDL document.
  • A Project Advisory Committee (PAC), with Subcommittees for Chapters 2, 3, 4 and new Chapter 5, has been established to help provide broad stakeholder perspective in the MPDM update process.
  • The updated MPDM will be internet accessible and searchable via the BWSR website.

Stakeholder Input Opportunities

There are two major ways for organizations to input into the process:  (1) Stakeholder Focus Groups and (2) the Project Advisory Committee and it's associated Chapter subcommittees.  Those opportunities are explained in the following documents:

Overview of Stakeholder Input Opportunities and Addendum to the Overview of Stakeholder Input Opportunities

Stakeholder Focus Groups and Stakeholder Questionnaire

Project Advisory Committee


Look for further updates on the process here.

Drainage Records Modernization & GIS Database (DRMGD) Project


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

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


The project is scheduled to be complete no later than June 30, 2016.


The Board of Water and Soil resources in partnership with MnGEO is working with Houston Engineering, Inc., to create a statewide drainage records database.


A project advisory committee (PAC) has been established to help guide the development of project goals, scope and outcomes. Members of the stakeholder Drainage Work Group, public drainage inspectors / mgr., co. auditor-treasurers, drainage engineer, WD administrators, GIS specialist, SWCD technician have been recruited to serve on the PAC.

In coordination with BWSR, MnGeo and the consultant the project advisory committee, will solicit input of drainage authorities and applicable practitioners via focus groups and a questionnaire to help define business requirement characteristics and data standards for the GIS database template and data portal, as well as an associated scope for updating the Drainage Records Modernization Guidelines.

  • Focus Group Invitation
    • Three Focus Group meetings will be facilitated by Houston Engineering, Inc., the project subcontractor, along with BWSR and MnGeo, to seek input from attendees about their drainage records use, database requirements and other considerations. A questionnaire will also be used for stakeholder input. Focus Group Invitation
  • Focus Group Presentations

Stakeholder Questionnaire

This questionnaire is intended to gather “user” and other stakeholder perspectives and recommendations about the database template, Drainage Records Modernization Guidelines and web portal access of the Public Drainage Records Database Project.

Please complete this questionnaire online at:
Note: Online questionnaire close 5:00 pm Friday, August 14, 2015.

If you prefer, download the questionnaire and email a completed copy to All completed questionnaires must be submitted by 5:00 pm Friday, August 14, 2015.

Thank you for your feedback!


Drainage Records Modernization Guidelines

Look for further updates on the project here.

Targeted Drainage Water Management Grant Program Resources

Legacy Amendment logoThis list of resources is for Grantees, Landowners, and/or Technical Service Providers (TSPs) developing Drainage Water Management Plans (DWMPs) and implementing DWM practices through the Targeted Drainage Water Management Grant Program (TDWMGP). This program has been coordinated with applicable USDA-NRCS conservation practice standards and conservation activity plans.

Resources from BWSR

The TDWMGP is one of the BWSR Clean Water Fund grant programs and uses the policies and procedures from the BWSR: FY 2013 Clean Water Fund Competitive Grants Policy

Specific TDWMGP guidance is available in the: FY2013 Clean Water Fund Targeted Drainage Water Management Grants Program Description

Questions and Answers about Drainage Water Management: Drainage Water Management for the Midwest

Targeted DWM Brochure: BWSR Conservation Drainage Program: Drainage Water Management Grants FY 2013

BWSR Example of...

Water Control Structure
Water Control Structure
Water Control Structure

Resources from NRCS

The TDWMGP uses applicable NRCS Conservation Activity Plans (CAPs), Conservation Practices (CPs) and associated forms. Due to differences with roles and responsibilities between NRCS and the Local Government Units participating in the TDWMGP, some documents have been revised accordingly for TDWMGP use.

Drainage Management Team

Inter-agency group that provides information and assistance to drainage authorities (more information)

Drainage Work Group

The Drainage Work Group 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.

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 buffer strip establishment and inspection.

Technical Information and Resources

Tools for Wetland Determination - Scope and Effect

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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