Drainage Law and Buffer Law buffer strips along public drainage ditches are separate requirements that include the same strips of land. Both require establishment of 16.5 ft. of perennial buffer strips along public drainage ditches, however these are separate requirements with different rules and enforcement methods. The Drainage Department enforces buffer strips subject to both Drainage Law and Buffer Law.
- Buffer Law requirements apply to individual landowners and establishment is landowner responsibility, except where a Drainage Law buffer strip already exists.
- Viewers and the Drainage Authority may retroactively provide compensation for Buffer Law buffer strips when determining damages to be paid by the drainage system for Drainage Law buffer strips.
- The Drainage Department will carry out corrective actions on a parcel basis to ensure compliance with the buffer requirements, which may include an Administrative Penalty Order (APO) plan under the authority provided in Minnesota Statutes 103B.101, subd. 12a and 103F.48.
- Drainage Law buffer strips have been a Minnesota Statute 103E requirement since 1977, triggered by the appointment of viewers to determine drainage system benefits and damages. This includes establishment, improvement, redetermination of benefits and damages, and certain petitioned repairs.
- Drainage system right-of-way easements for Drainage Law buffer strips are purchased from the landowner by the drainage system when buffer strips are required.
- Drainage Authorities are authorized to assess the costs of the buffer strip right-of-way easements and planting of perennial vegetation to all of the benefited lands of the drainage system prorated based on the most recent adopted benefits.
- If the Drainage Department determines that permanent strips of perennial vegetation are not being maintained in compliance with Minnesota Statutes 103E.021, a compliance notice must be sent to the property owner.
- If a property owner does not comply by the date specified, the Drainage Authority will perform the work necessary to bring the area into compliance and charge the cost of the work to the property owner.