Public Waters Inventory Program

Program description

The Water Permit Programs Unit oversees the administration of the original public waters inventory conducted in the late 1970's and maintains the inventory records. The original Public Waters Inventory (PWI) map mylars are still used to generate paper copies of PWI maps, which are available for sale at Minnesota's Bookstore. (link is external) The Public Waters Inventory Program responds to inquiries about the public waters inventory hearing process and record. In recent years, because of litigation against the DNR, the program modified the original PWI maps of counties that contained designated trout streams. The litigation resulted in additional public waters regulated by the DNR.

Public Waters Inventory maps are also available for download in format. See the PWI Maps Info page and the PWI Maps Download page.

Corrections and Refinements

The original PWI maps were created using the best available data at the time for the purpose of showing the location of public waters. The DNR has the authority to make corrections to the map as errors are discovered.

Proposal to return five watercourses to Public Water Inventory in Renville and Polk counties

August 10, 2020

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking public comment on its proposal to make corrections to the Public Waters Inventory by returning four watercourses in Renville County and one watercourse in Polk County to the PWI.

The DNR has determined that these five watercourses are altered or natural watercourses, each of which has a total drainage area greater than two square miles and therefore meets the statutory definition of a public watercourse. Once returned to the PWI, these watercourses would be easily identified as being subject to public water regulations and the buffer law.

The watercourses proposed to be returned to the PWI are in the following locations:


Renville County






Limbo Creek


Ericson Township sections 30 and 31

Sacred Heart Township section 6

Hawk Creek Township sections 1, 12, 11, 14, 15 and north ½ of 22

Sacred Heart Creek


Sacred Heart Township, sections 1, 2, 12, 13, 24, 25, 26, 35, 36

Outlet of County Ditch 130


Beaver Falls Township, section 8

Unnamed Stream


Cairo Township, sections 31, 32


Polk County





Unnamed Creek to Sand Hill River (formerly county ditch 133)

2.1 miles

Sletten Township, sections 16, 21, 22


The DNR will accept written comments on this proposal until 4:30 p.m. November 11, 2020.  Comments should be submitted to Public Waters Inventory Corrections, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN  55155-4025, or [email protected]. Comments cannot be submitted by phone and will be accepted only via email or postal mail. Questions may be asked by email, postal mail, or by calling 651-259-5654.

People who submit comments will receive a copy of the decision document, which includes responses to comments. Because all comments and related information are part of the public record, commenters' names and email or postal addresses will also be published and publicly available as they appear in the materials they submit.

Public Waters Inventory Watercourse Removals

April 13, 2017

On April 13, 2017, the DNR Commissioner issued a Findings of Fact, Conclusions and Order revising Public Waters Inventory (PWI) maps by removing certain watercourses (Attachment A). The DNR removed the watercourses to correct a procedural error in the original PWI process affecting those watercourses. Finding of Fact #21 states, "the DNR may review the subject watercourses for possible inclusion in the PWI in the future, subject to requisite public comment opportunity prior to any additions to the PWI." The purpose of the documents below is to generally describe the DNR's framework for review of the subject watercourses for possible inclusion in the PWI.

Additional Resources

Program personnel