Drainage districts were established for drainage of surface waters from agricultural and other lands for the protection of said lands from overflow when said protection is a public benefit or is conducive to public health, convenience, and welfare (Section 468.2, State Code Of Iowa). 

Districts are established by the Drainage District Trustees at the request of the land owners within the proposed district (Section 468.6-468.8). Petitions and actions to establish are kept in the minute books in the county courthouse.  Under the Code Of Iowa, Chapter 468 the County Board Of Supervisor’s act as Drainage District Trustees in all District matters. The landowners of a particular district may, if they wish, elect their own trustees and maintain the district themselves.

The trustees are required by the Code Of Iowa (Section 468.126) to maintain all drainage districts at their original capacity. Notice of repairs is only required when the cost will exceed $20,000 or 75% of the original assessed value of the district, whichever is greater.

Land owners in the district, not the County, own and pay for all maintenance and repairs to that district. A contractor hired by the trustees will do the work and bill the cost to the district.

Assessments are made as necessary to pay for engineering costs, improvements, and repairs within a given drainage district.  Assessments or classification of land in a drainage district is based on the benefit that land is seen to receive from being in the district.
  • The original assessed value of any parcel of land within a district was set when that district was established and is the basis for all assessments unless the district is reclassified by the trustees (Section 468.49). 
  • Assessments represent a percentage of the original assessment.
  • Properties near the bottom of the district or adjacent to a district ditch or tile line will normally pay more than properties at the top of the district or that are not close to a district tile. District maps show where property is located within the district in relation to the district ditches and tile.  Drainage ditch and tile maps are stored in the Drainage District Clerk’s Office.  Copies can be made upon request.
Drainage districts are not levied on a regular basis. Drainage districts are levied when district funds drop to zero.  When a district is levied the trustees set the percentage such that a surplus remains after all bills are paid. The district will not be levied again until its funds are depleted which depends on the amount of work required in the district. Some districts are levied frequently while some may go 50 years or more without a levy.

Delinquent drainage assessments become a lien on the property (Section 468.51). The property can then be sold for back taxes/assessments just as it can be sold for non-payment of property taxes (Section 468.158-468.162).  Members cannot exempt themselves from the district unless the district is dissolved (Sections 468.250-468.261).

Requests for repairs, complaints, problems, or questions should be directed to Drainage District Clerk Courtney Morris at 515-532-2771 located in the Wright County Courthouse at 115 North Main Street, Clarion, Iowa.

You may download a petition for repair, complete the form and then mail to the Auditor's Office.  Select the link below to download the petition for repair:

Click here to download petition for repair