Senate Counsel, Research
and Fiscal Analysis
Minnesota Senate Bldg.
95 University Avenue W. Suite 3300
St. Paul, MN 55155
(651) 296-4791
Tom Bottern
State of Minnesota
S.F. No. 2503 - Third Engrossment - Buffer Requirements Modified
Author: Senator Rod Skoe
Prepared By: Greg Knopff, Senate Analyst (651/296-9399)
Date: April 12, 2016


Section 1 [APO clarification] clarifies that the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) general administrative penalty order (APO) authority for penalties up to $10,000 does not apply to the APO authority for buffers.

Section 2 [APO plan; penalties] directs BWSR to develop an APO plan before using the authority.  This section also directs all revenue from APO penalties to the entity using the APO authority (BWSR or local government).

Section 3 [Extent of damages; buffers acquired by a drainage authority] clarifies in the drainage law how a drainage authority retroactively compensates a landowner for buffers or alternative practices that were installed to meet the requirements of the 2015 buffer law.  The clarification directs a drainage authority to consider the land use prior to the buffer or alternative practice being installed in determining the fair market value of the land.

Section 4 [Public waters clarification] clarifies that the term “public water” when used in the 2015 buffer law applies to waters that are on the public waters inventory.  The public waters inventory was conducted in the early 1980's to determine the waters of the state where the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has regulatory authority.  This section also clarifies the term "with jurisdiction" for the purposes of the buffer law.

Section 5 [Buffer requirement clarification] specifies:

  1. the vegetation for the buffer requirement on public drainage systems;
  2. that the drainage ditch requirement is on public drainage ditches only;
  3. that alternative water quality practices allowed in place of buffers include water retention ponds and other measures that prevent overland flow to a water resource; and
  4. the buffer law does not affect eligibility to participate in federal or state conservation programs.

Section 6 [Local water plan update; additional watercourses] gives local water management authorities flexibility in updating their local plans to include additional watercourses recommended by the local soil and water conservation district, including the use of a plan addendum.

Section 7 [Corrective actions; local processes] allows counties and watershed districts to enforce the buffer requirements using local processes in lieu of administrative penalty orders.  This section also clarifies that the soil and water conservation district must notify the county or watershed district and the BWSR of noncompliance and requires counties or watershed districts to affirm their jurisdiction by March 31, 2017.

Section 8 [Funding subject to withholding] specifies that the only money that may be withheld from local governments by the state for lack of buffer law implementation is money from the BWSR.

Section 9 [Public drainage system procedure] eliminates the ability of a drainage authority to compensate landowners for buffers beyond the project cost limits in the drainage law.


Check on the status of this bill
Back to Senate Counsel and Research Bill Summaries page

This page is maintained by the Office of Senate Counsel, Research, and Fiscal Analysis for the Minnesota Senate.
Last review or update: 04/12/2016
If you see any errors on this page, please e-mail us at