County Drainage Ditch Systems

County drainage ditches are drainage systems that were constructed as a result of a petition, filed by a majority of landowners of property the drainage system passes over. These systems are regulated by Minnesota Statute 103E and are under the jurisdiction of the Mille Lacs County Board of Commissioners. The county ditches in Mille Lacs County were constructed in the early 1900s in order to provide drainage for agricultural lands, these are not necessarily ditches along county roads.

Mille Lacs County has ten petitioned county ditches, eight open channel county ditches, one tiled county ditch, and one open channel joint ditch system shared with Isanti County. These drainage systems are self-supporting financially, with funds coming from landowners benefitted by the drainage system. The landowners benefitted by the drainage system, and the monetary value of those benefits, are determined by viewers.

Redetermination of Benefits

Viewers are appointed when a new system is created to make an initial assessment of benefits. There are also a number of proceedings included within Minnesota Statute 103E that require some action by viewers, but the most common proceeding is a redetermination of benefits. A redetermination of benefits is completed to adjust for any changes that may have taken place on the drainage system, as well as changes in agricultural commodities values and land values. More information on the viewing process and drainage viewers can be found at the Minnesota Drainage Viewers Association website.


Drainage system repairs, as well as system administration and construction costs, are funded by the landowners benefitted by the drainage system. Repairs may be initiated by a petition, filed with the drainage authority by landowners benefitted by the drainage system; or authorized by the drainage authority in response to an inspection of the drainage system. Repair of a county drainage system is limited to restoration of the drainage system to the same condition as it was originally constructed. Landowners may use the Petition for Repair of a Drainage System form (PDF) provided by Mille Lacs County to file petitions for repairs.