The Indiana Drainage Code creates a Drainage Board in each County consisting of either the County Commissioners, or four resident freeholders and one County Commissioner as members. The Surveyor serves on the Drainage Board as an "Ex-Officio Member", a non-voting position and technical adviser.
The Drainage Board shall have public hearings for the construction, reconstruction, or vacation of Regulated Drains. Notice is sent by 1st class mail to land owners affected by the procedure. Landowners within the drainage watershed have the right to object to the proposed project. The Drainage Board has the discretionary authority to approve, modify, or dismiss the project based on those objections. Landowners have the right of judicial review of the Drainage Board's decision.
The Drainage Board can maintain, reconstruct, or vacate a regulated drain. The Drainage Board maintains a drain by putting the drain back to its original specifications. This is done by dredging, repairing tile, cleaning obstructions or other work necessary to keep the drain in proper working order.
The Indiana Drainage Code provides for a 75 foot drainage easement. It requires the Drainage Board's approval of crossing of the drain (Cross Drainage Ditch application), or outlets into the drain. The Indiana Drainage Code also gives the Drainage Board the right to remove obstructions within the drain.
Regulated Drain Responsibilities
A Regulated Drain is a drain which was established through either the Circuit Court or County Commissioners prior to 1966, or by the Drainage Board since that date. A Regulated Drain can be either an open ditch, tile drain, or a combination of both (Petition to Establish a Regulated Drain).
The Indiana Drainage Code gives the Drainage Board the ability to create new Regulated Drains when petitioned by 10% of the landowners in the drainage watershed by acreage, landowners of 25% of the assessed valuation within the drainage watershed, the County Commissioners, the City or Town Council for road and street drainage, or a school board to drain school property.
Private drains are not the responsibility of the Drainage Board. In 1996, the Indiana Legislature provided some relief for property owners that are adversely affected by obstructions in a private drain. Included in Indiana Code 36 9, 2027.4, is a process in which a landowner may petition the Drainage Board to investigate an obstruction in a private drain. Payment for any work done must be paid by the landowners involved.