A new water quality initiative aimed at protecting Minnesota's waters was signed into law in 2015 and further modified in 2016. The buffer installation will reduce erosion and pollution from runoff by establishing about 110,000 acres of buffers along Minnesota waterways.
A buffer is vegetated land adjacent to a stream, river, lake or wetland. Buffers help slow the flow of water and filter out phosphorous, nitrogen, and sediment, which are all pollutants that degrade water quality.
Buffer law requirements
The law includes the following requirements:
- Buffers an average of 50 feet and minimum of 30 feet must be installed along public waters by November 1, 2017
- Buffers a minimum of 16.5 feet must be installed on public drainage systems by November 1, 2018
- Buffers must be permanently vegetated and not contain noxious or prohibited weeds
The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources is overseeing implementation of the buffer law, and they are working on program development. Learn more about the buffer program.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources created buffer maps that will determine which waters are subject to the new requirements. Learn more about the buffer mapping project.
Staff are available to assist landowners with staking of buffers, enrolling in conservation programs, and determining what to plant in the required buffer area.
If you would like to request a validation of compliance for any reason, email or mail the validation of completion form (DOCX) to Kirsten Barta at email@example.com or
Hennepin County Environment and Energy
Attn: Kirsten Barta
701 4th Ave S, Suite 700
Minneapolis, MN 55415
The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) requires that all parcels requiring buffers be reviewed at least once every three years. Parcels are reviewed by aerial photo, and spot checks must be conducted on 15 percent of parcels.
To fulfill this mandate, Hennepin County staff will review aerial photos of parcels requiring buffers in one-third of the county each year. Additionally, spot checks will be conducted in the field on 5 to 10 percent of the reviewed parcels each year. Residents whose parcels will be spot check will be notified via letter.
The map shows the parcels that require buffers and how the county will be divided into thirds for inspections. The colors on the maps indicate:
- Blue lined waters are public waters requiring 50-foot buffers
- Green lines are public ditches requiring 16.5-foot buffers
- Red lines are the sections of the county that will be reviewed on a three year cycle
For more information
Contact Kirsten Barta at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-543-3373 with questions or for more information.