Buffer Law

Buffer imageThe Minnesota Buffer Law (Minnesota Statues 103F.48) was signed into law by Governor Dayton in June 2015.  It was amended on April 25, 2016 and further amended by legislation on May 30, 2017.The Buffer Law’s purpose is to:

  1. protect state water resources from erosion and runoff pollution;
  2. stabilize soils, shores, and banks; and
  3. protect or provide riparian corridors.
The State Buffer Law requires landowners to establish perennial vegetation of up to 50 feet along lakes, rivers, and streams and buffers of 16.5 feet along ditches.  

County Buffer Ordinance

Blue Earth County has accepted jurisdiction for enforcement of the Buffer Law.  To administer enforcement of the Buffer Law, the County must enact an ordinance that establishes procedures for enforcement of the Buffer Law as provided in Minn. Stat. §103F.48 subd. 7, and Minn. Stat. §103B.101, subd. 12a.  

The Blue Earth County Buffer Ordinance was approved by the County Board of Commissioners on October 24, 2017.  The Ordinance goes into effect on December 29, 2017.

Key dates for compliance with the Buffer Law

  • November 1, 2017 - Buffers or alternative water quality practices must be in place on Public Waters by November 1, 2017.  The State Buffer Law also allows landowners to apply for a compliance waiver.  The deadline for this waiver is November 1, 2017. Compliance waivers can only be issued by the Soil and Water Conservation District.  Landowners issued compliance waivers must be in compliance by July 1, 2018.
  • November 1, 2018 - The 16.5 foot buffers or alternative water quality practices must be in place by November 1, 2018 on County drainage ditches.  

Where buffers are required

  • Public waters (lakes, rivers and streams) require a 50 foot buffer.
  • County drainage ditches require a 16.5 foot buffer
A map showing the Public Waters where a 50-foot buffer is required and the County drainage systems where a 16.5 foot buffer is required can be viewed on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources webpage

Contact for compliance, waivers or potential funding options

The Blue Earth County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is responsible for determining buffer compliance and oversees requests for waivers.  They also will assist landowners with cost-share programs and conservation easements.  The SWCD can be contacted at (507) 345-4744.