Multipurpose Drainage Management Background

wetland restoration
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From a Single Primary Purpose…
Much of Minnesota’s farmland was originally too wet to farm. Surface ditches and subsurface tile have been installed since the time of statehood to drain agricultural lands; remove stagnant water, insects and disease; and to facilitate transportation and commerce. Minnesota has approximately 19,150 miles of drainage ditches and extensive untallied miles of subsurface tile installed and maintained under what currently is Minn. Stat. Chapter 103E Drainage law. Much of this drainage occurred during the late 1800’s, early and middle 1900’s. These systems are owned by the benefited property owners and administered by a county, joint county or watershed district drainage authority. Private drainage ditches and patterned tile are also extensive in the primary agricultural lands of Minnesota.

…To Multiple Purposes
Drainage remains very important for agricultural production on much of Minnesota’s cropland. However, drainage impacts hydrology, stream stability, water quality and aquatic habitat. Because so much of Minnesota’s agricultural land includes drainage systems, multipurpose drainage management is critical for addressing altered hydrology, erosion and sedimentation, water quality, and habitat. Multipurpose Drainage Management of fields and drainage infrastructure can provide adequate drainage capacity, while reducing downstream peak flows and flooding, reducing erosion and sedimentation, improving water quality and improving aquatic habitat. These are important considerations for drainage projects in Section of 103E.015 of Minnesota drainage law. A number of resources are available to help identify, design and implement best management practices for Multipurpose Drainage Management.

Available Funding for MDM Projects:


(As of 03/01/2024)

Received Application Funding (Pending From Recent Batching Period): 


If the total cost of your project exceeds the available funding listed above, fill out the survey below:


Quarterly Applications for Funding

Template: Perpetual Conservation Easement for Drainage Management and Flowage - A perpetual conservation easement is required for wetland creations or wetland restorations. This form has already been reviewed and approved by the MN Attorney General and BWSR. If a grantee modifies or chooses not to use this form, they will need additional review and approval from BWSR and the Attorney General's office. Applicants purposing wetland creations or wetland restorations must indicate intent to use the required easement in the application. 

Multipurpose Drainage Management Fact Sheet - Informational fact sheet regarding multipurpose agricultural drainage management practices and applicable funding sources.

MDM Calendar For Funding Application Deadlines for 2023 and 2024

Other Resources related to MDM

BMP User Guides   

Applicable Programs



Tom Gile
Resource Conservation Section Manager
Rita Weaver
Chief Engineer
Dave Weirens
Assistant Director for Programs & Policy