ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton is telling environmental officials to back off private ditches as they start enforcing a new law to boost water quality.

Passing stronger requirements for so-called buffers between crops and waterways was a major flashpoint at the Capitol last year. Concern about implementing those setbacks along private ditches kept the controversy alive.

Top Republican lawmakers and agricultural groups have previously said they never intended for private waterways to be included in the compromise law. Dayton instructed the Department of Natural Resources on Friday not to include those ditches as they map out where to enforce the law.

Dayton says he didn't want GOP objections to hinder the law. It's unclear how the change will impact governor's marquee water quality initiative.

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