Iowa Drainage Law Manual (TR-497)

Project Details







Iowa Highway Research Board

Principal Investigator
Stephen Andrle
Co-Principal Investigator
Tom McDonald
Student Researcher(s)
Traci O'Neil
Brett Hansen

About the research

Although Iowa has some of the most productive agricultural land in the nation, it also maintains a very extensive road network. Consequently, landowners and roadway officials often must deal with drainage issues affecting private lands and public highways. However, many individuals are unfamiliar with legal drainage requirements, practices, and procedures, which can result in misunderstandings concerning maintenance responsibilities for drainage facilities, sometimes leading to litigation. To assist property owners, public agencies, and others with interest in better understanding drainage maintenance responsibilities, a reference manual was developed to describe Iowa?s drainage laws and offer interpretations in a clear and concise manner.

To develop a comprehensive drainage manual, researchers identified and reviewed current available literature. These resources described pertinent drainage issues and presented explanations of legal responsibilities. The literature review included manuals and guides from Iowa, surrounding states, and federal agencies.

Researchers developed a survey to assess the needs and interests of potential users of an Iowa drainage law manual. Survey responses were used to identify common problems and concerns among individuals who encounter drainage issues on a regular basis. Issues mentioned in the survey responses included interpretation of drainage laws and commonly encountered questions relating to public improvements and private interests. Many individuals, including county engineers, stated interest in specific topics such as maintenance and/or diversion of drainage, landowner issues, and upstream and downstream impacts. Overall, the survey provided researchers with valuable information regarding drainage issues, problems, current policies, and concerns. A comprehensive manual of Iowa drainage law will assist agencies and individuals in interpreting current code requirements and in implementing effective and beneficial solutions when dealing with drainage issues.