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Creating a Framework for Partnership

October 3, 2018

WRain flowing down streethat do Edina, Excelsior, Chanhassen, Medina, and Shorewood have in common? They all have an approved local water management plan (as of this post) that guides how they will be managing stormwater in their communities. Polluted stormwater runoff is the number one threat to water quality, and the steps cities take to prevent runoff from reaching local water bodies make a big difference in keeping lakes, streams and wetlands clean.  By the end of this year, state law requires all cities in the metro area to adopt a comprehensive plan. As part of that plan, cities are required to include a local water management plan that must be reviewed and approved by their local watershed district.

Throughout 2018, Renae Clark, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District’s (MCWD’s) Policy and Grants Coordinator, has been working closely with all 27 cities in the watershed district to review their local water management plans. To do this work, Renae uses the framework put forth in our Watershed Management Plan which guides our work and is rooted in our balanced urban ecology approach.

The MCWD’s balanced urban ecology policy recognizes the interdependence of the natural and built environments. It prioritizes:

  • partnering with our communities and others to achieve our water quality goals
  • high-impact projects in areas that will result in widespread benefits
  • flexibility and creativity in adapting to the needs of our partners

By working with our cities on their water management plans, we aim to coordinate the land use change that’s occurring in our communities with water quality improvements. The result is a healthier landscape and improved quality of life for our residents.

To achieve this, the MCWD has asked that each city’s local water management plan describe how the city and MCWD will share information and work together to coordinate land use and water planning. The local plans should:

  • enable early coordination of land use and water management
  • foster development regulations that include water resource protections
  • identify and capitalize on project opportunities to improve water resources while maximizing other public and private goals

So, what does this actually look like? Generally, our cities are committing to:

  • meeting annually with MCWD staff to exchange and review capital improvement plans and stormwater maintenance activities
  • meeting annually to consult with the MCWD on land use, infrastructure, park, and recreation planning
  • notifying the MCWD of small area plans and other focused development or redevelopment
  • notifying the MCWD of prospective development or redevelopment and providing proposed preliminary development plans
  • regulatory coordination for permit reviews, construction site inspections and compliance, enforcement of water resource rules, and implementation of Wetland Conservation Act rules and MCWD rules

We are excited to see our Watershed Management Plan in action, and we are eager to use the development of these coordination plans as a way to build strong relationships and capacity within our cities. These plans will help us be responsive to our communities and prioritize our work across the watershed in years to come. To learn more about our approach and the local water management plans, check out our Watershed Management Plan.