Review of Conservation Drainage Practices and Designs in Minnesota: Results from Focus Groups with Drainage Professionals around the State

Focus groups were held around the state in January-February 2010 to listen to people directly involved with designing, installing, and regulating agricultural drainage systems. Participants were separated into three groups: engineers and agency hydrologists, farmers and contractors, and drainage authorities. Most participants were interested in the topic of conservation drainage and appreciated the importance and complexity of drainage issues. Many were eager to continue the conversation, feeling it was a much-needed discussion about fresh ways to address drainage concerns. However, "conservation drainage" is not a well-established or well-understood term, and some were not comfortable with it. Many participants emphasized the importance of personal relationships for determining how people respond to drainage issues. They knew and valued those individuals who were skilled at facilitating ongoing communication and productive relationships among the various stakeholders. They also recognized the deep challenges of building good relationships. Most participants emphasized the site-specific nature of drainage – meaning no one size fits all, the most appropriate strategy depends on the situation, and policies and programs need to be flexible.
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University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
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University of Minnesota
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