Public Drainage, Ditches, & Buffers

County Ditches

A county ditch is a drainage system managed by a County Drainage Authority or Joint County Drainage Authority.  The county does not own the ditch.  The landowners who benefit from the ditch own the drainage system.  County ditches were constructed to drain land and collect water quickly and efficiently to provide better soil conditions and increase land available for the production of crops. Waseca County’s drainage systems consist of hundreds of miles of both open ditch and tile sections.    

MN Drainage Law

Minnesota’s Drainage Law is applied throughout the state and is known as the “Drainage Code.” It determines how privately-owned county ditches are managed. The purpose of the law was to establish a process to oversee drainage management among the ditch owners.  Minnesota drainage law is currently found in state statute chapter 103E. (

MN Buffer Law

The MN buffer law was signed into law for the purpose of protecting state water resources from erosion and runoff pollution, stabilizing soils and banks, and protecting and enhancing riparian corridors.  The Buffer Law requires landowners to establish perennial vegetation of up to 50 feet along lakes, rivers, and streams and buffers of 16.5 feet along ditches.  The Waseca County Ditch Inspector inspects and enforces the 16.5 foot buffer strip along county ditches.  Minnesota buffer law is currently found in state statute chapter 103F. (