Drainage Questions

What is a County Ditch?

A county ditch is a drainage system managed by a County or Joint Drainage Authority. The county does not own the ditch. The landowners who benefit from the ditch own the drainage system. A county ditch can be an open ditch system, an underground tile system or a combination of open ditch and underground tile. Road ditches are not county ditches. But roads do have benefits assigned because they benefit from the county ditch systems.

Can the public hunt along or use a public ditch for recreational purposes?

No, a public ditch is an easement for drainage only. The land remains private property. Like all private property, you need to get the landowner’s permission before entering the property. 

I want to do some work or make improvements/abandon a section of a county ditch?

How do I get permission? The first step is to contact the County Auditor-Treasurer. The office will ensure that proper policies and that state drainage laws are followed.

A county ditch is blocked or requires a repair. What can be done to solve the problem?

Contact the ditch inspector at 507-233-5700. They will schedule an inspection of the issue and work to resolve the problem 

Who pays for ditch improvements and repairs?

Property owners who are benefited by the ditch are the ones who pay for it. For county ditches, the county pays the contractor and assesses all costs back to the benefited property through a special assessment. 

How does the Drainage Authority determine the amount of the assessments that are allocated to a ditch system?

Minnesota State Statute requires that a separate fund be maintained for each ditch system. It is improper for these balances to be in the deficit. It has been the goal of the Drainage Authority to have funds available in the systems account equal to the average annual expenditures on the system, plus $2,000. This formula is applied to all systems in the county annually.

Contact Brown County Ditch Authority

Petitions for Repair/Improvement/Abandonment & Assessment Billings/Benefits

Auditor-Treasurer's Office - 507-233-6613

Drainage Repairs  - Ditch Inspector

Brown County Highway Department - 507-233-5702

Contact Auditor-Treasurer Office


Brown County Courthouse
14 S State Street
PO Box 115
New Ulm, MN 56073-0115

Located on the 2nd floor, Rm 206
Hours: 8 am – 4:30pm Weekdays

Telephone: (507) 233-6613
Fax: (507) 359-1430

Email County Auditor-Treasurer


Telephone: (507) 233-6614

Email Brown County Elections


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Hours: 8am to 4:30pm
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Courthouse Address:
14 S State St
New Ulm, MN 56073