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GreenStep City Best Practices Environmental Management

Surface Water Quality
no. 19

Improve local water bodies.
benefits  
Successful implementation of a lake or river management plan will achieve, at a minimum:
  • Increased and managed native vegetation in the shoreline zone.
  • Improved water quality.
  • Reduction of aquatic invasive species.
  • Increased or maintained healthy fish stocks.
  • Stabilized or increased property values and property tax receipts for the city. See a 2003 Bemidji State University study of property value increases per shoreland foot per increased meter of lake clarity. The overall finding was that a 3 foot decrease in water clarity for northern MN lakes translates to a decline of 22% in property value, or the loss of $70/shoreline foot.


    Conversations and reporting about local water quality, which most importantly must involve any existing citizen lake and river associations, can result in potentially far-reaching benefits:
  • Better relationships among community members including farmers and outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Development of a common community vision grounded in trust among community members and focusing on a sustainable built and natural environment, and on sustainable land use.
  • Improved natural resource quality and tourism.
 
Optional for category A, B and C cities
All Category A, B and C cities that have at least one public water body within their boundaries subject to Minnesota shoreland rules and that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of action 4 and at least one additional action.

All Category A, B and C cities that have no public water body within their boundaries subject to Minnesota shoreland rules and that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least one action.
summary

A city, working with another unit of government such as a watershed district, can take direct actions to improve the water quality of lakes, streams and wetlands within its boundaries. Implementing an existing TMDL implementation plan is one example. In addition, a number of other action options are found in other GreenStep best practices, for example, in the Stormwater Management best practice. And a number of actions to improve water quality are required through Minnesota's regulatory agencies.

In some cities and for some water bodies, however, the actions of shoreland owners and nearby farmers will be the most effective means toward water quality improvement, which bolsters property values and property tax receipts for the city. This best practice focuses on building community capacity for public involvement in watershed projects, where the city supports actions taken by local lake or river associations, farmers, city residents and other businesses.

greenstep advisor
Daniel Petrik, Land Use Specialist, MN Dept. of Natural Resources: 651/259-5697, Daniel.Petrik@state.mn.us
connection to state Policy

  • As TMDL (total maximum daily load) allocations for pollutants are established for specific water bodies in the state, implementation of this best practice is one means of implementing the TMDL plan to improve the water body.
  • The 2007 Minnesota Legislature directed the MN Dept. of Natural Resources to update statewide minimum shoreland development standards. Local government units (counties, cities, and towns) are responsible for the implementation, administration, and enforcement of shoreland management standards through their planning and zoning controls.
  • Minnesota Statutes allow local citizen initiatives to create lake improvement districts with taxing authority in order to address specific concerns within a lake watershed that cannot be addressed under normal governmental actions.