Wisconsin Administrative Code
Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
ATCP 20-54 - Agricultural Resource Management
Chapter ATCP 48 - Drainage districts


Current through February 26, 2024

This chapter establishes legal obligations related to drainage districts:

Drainage districts are special purpose districts formed for the purpose of draining land, primarily for agricultural purposes. Lands within a drainage district are drained by means of common drains that cross individual property boundaries. Chapter 88, Stats., spells out procedures for creating, modifying and dissolving drainage districts.

County drainage boards are responsible for operating drainage districts in compliance with ch. 88, Stats., and this chapter. A county drainage board may levy assessments against landowners in a drainage district to pay for the design, construction and maintenance of district drains, and to pay other district operating costs. The county drainage board must allocate cost assessments between landowners based on a drainage district benefit assessment that complies with this chapter.

The state of Wisconsin department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection monitors county drainage board compliance with ch. 88, Stats., and this chapter. Drainage district specifications and construction projects must be approved by the department. Within the limits of available resources, the department also provides technical assistance to county drainage boards.

County drainage boards are primarily responsible for resolving drainage disputes within and between drainage districts. A landowner may petition a county drainage board to comply with applicable requirements under ch. 88, Stats., and this chapter. A landowner may also ask the department to order a county drainage board to comply.

A county drainage board may prevent municipalities and other persons from connecting their drains to district drains, except under terms prescribed by the county drainage board. A county drainage board may also require a person to disconnect a drain. If a proposed connection will increase costs to the drainage district, the county drainage board may assess costs to the person wishing to connect.

Landowners in a drainage district have certain rights and responsibilities prescribed by ch. 88, Stats., and this chapter. Drainage rights are based on drain specifications formally established by the circuit court (or by a county drainage board under this chapter). A county drainage board may not change established drain specifications without department approval. The county drainage board must comply with procedures designed to protect landowner rights.

A change of land ownership does not relieve or deprive a succeeding landowner of rights or responsibilities that run with the land under ch. 88, Stats., or this chapter.

A county drainage board must comply with public records and open meeting laws under ch. 19, Stats. A county drainage board must also comply with specific procedures required by ch. 88, Stats., and this chapter.

This chapter is adopted under authority of ss. 88.11 and 93.07(1), Stats.

Questions related to drainage districts and this chapter may be referred to the county drainage board or to the department at the following address:

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

Division of Agricultural Resource Management

Bureau of Land and Water Resources

P.O. Box 8911

Madison, WI 53708-8911

Disclaimer: These regulations may not be the most recent version. Wisconsin may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.
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