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GreenStep City Best Practices Environmental Management

Surface Water
no. 19

Improve local water bodies to sustain their long-term ecological function and community benefits.
  Best Practice Action 3      [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ]       [all actions]

Adopt and report on measurable, publicly announced surface water improvement targets for water bodies, including the percent of lake, river, wetland and ditch shoreline with at least a 50-foot vegetation buffer.

  • Gathering and reporting, in a pithy format, water quality data is a first step in setting improvement targets. This work can be augmented through the state's citizen volunteer monitoring programs for lakes and rivers. The State of the River Report for the metro Mississippi River provides a template for a much more limited but publicly accessible report that a city, in concert with allied water organizations, could periodically produce.
  • The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) makes loans and grants to cities on an ongoing basis to protect and improve water quality in communities.
  • Buffer studies by the MN Pollution Control Agency and others show that a 50’ strip of permanent vegetation along lakes, streams, and wetland reduces the volume of runoff and the quantity of pollutants entering those waters, helping to protect and restore water quality and healthy aquatic life, natural stream functions and aquatic habitat. Buffers do not solve every water-quality problem and can/should be narrower or wider depending on specific circumstances. Increasing the number and width of buffers is a current focus of effort by Minnesota state agencies. 50 feet on lands adjacent to public waters and 16.5 feet on lands adjacent to public ditches is the target width.
  • Organizations with which to work include a Lake Improvement District, a watershed district, a watershed management organization, a Soil and Water Conservation District, the county water planning office, a county ditch authority, Minnesota Extension, MN Dept. of Natural Resource, MN Pollution Control Agency, and Minnesota Waters.
  • Lake improvement targets include measures such as trophic state, pollutant levels (including TMDLs), storm/ditch drainages, health measures, water levels, groundwater levels, invasive species, public access standards, noise pollution, noise rules, and recreational carrying capacity. See a 2003 carrying capacity study from Wisconsin's Lake Ripley.
  • The NEMO program (Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials) lists two dozen staff who are available to work with cities.
Work with other organizations to determine quantitative/qualitative targets for lakes, streams, wetlands.
Report at least annually to community members on targets - which must include more than TMDLs - and the status of achieving them. Report use of citizen volunteer lake/stream monitors and the Wetland Health Evaluation Program volunteer monitors.
Report % of lake, river, wetland and ditch shoreline with at least a 50' vegetation buffer; report at least three years improvements toward the targets.


Date action report first entered:   06/07/2012

Implementation details:
The City of Burnsville participates with the cities of Apple Valley, Lakeville, Eagan and Savage on the Black Dog Water Management Organization (BDWMO). The organization is active with surface water management issues in the areas of these cities covered by the BDWMO. The BDWMO covers 17,730 acres or 27.7 sq. miles and 72% of the watershed lies within the City of Burnsville. The City of Burnsville also has participants in CAMP. The Citizen-Assisted Monitoring Program (CAMP) is an Metropolitan Council Environmental Services--managed program for which citizen volunteers monitor the water quality of Twin Cities metro area. A total of 160 CAMP lakes were monitored in 2005. In Burnsville, the following lakes are monitored: Alimagnet, Crystal, Earley, Keller, (South) Twin, Wood, and Sunset Pond. On a bi-weekly basis (April-October), each volunteer collects a surface water sample for laboratory analysis of total phosphorus, nitrogen, and chlorophyll-a, obtains a Secchi transparency measurement, and provides some user perception information about the lake's physical and recreational condition. The main purpose of CAMP is to provide the City with water quality information that will not only help us properly manage these resources, but will also help document water quality impacts and trends. Volunteers also increase their awareness of their lake's condition and some are even compelled to take a more active approach in protecting and managing their lakes. For over nine years, Burnsville citizen volunteers have monitored wetlands through the Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP), a nationally recognized program that operates primarily in Dakota and Hennepin Counties. Through the program, volunteer groups collect vital information about wetland health, including biological indicators such as vegetation and macroinvertebrates (tiny animals without backbones). Because of the programs strong protocol design and training, WHEP has been extremely successful at providing quality data to Burnsville and to the Pollution Control Agency. It also provides a unique educational experience for volunteers of all levels. For more information, visit the WHEP website. The City of Burnsville also works with Lake Associations within Burnsville to determine water quality goals. The water "grades", clarity levels, and other goals can be found in the Water Resources Management Plan attached. Additionally, the City publishes the status of water resources annually in the city newsletter, and also provides updates to the lake associations and watershed organizations.

Descriptive links: http://www.burnsville.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/1520

For more information contact:
Sue Bast (City staff)   |   basts@ci.burnsville.mn.us   |   952-895-4524

View All Burnsville Actions

Fergus Falls

Date action report first entered:   01/14/2016
Date of last report update:   01/14/2016

Implementation details:
The City of Fergus Falls has been involved in a comprehensive plan for Lake Alice for a number of years. Interstate Engineering has been working with the city to develop targets for the water improvements and holds public meetings to report on their findings and take in public input.

For more information contact:
Len Taylor (City staff)   |   len.taylor@ci.fergus-falls.mn.us   |   218-332-5418

View All Fergus Falls Actions

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Date action report first entered:   08/14/2018
Date of last report update:   08/21/2018
Year action initially completed:   1998
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
In 1998 , the Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee adopted the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Water Quality Standards of the Fond du Lac Reservation (Ordinance #12/98). This set contaminant criteria and designated uses for the lakes and streams within FDL's boarders. The U.S EPA approved these water quality standards in 2001.

Outcome measures/metrics:
To implement these standards, the FDL Environmental Program designed a comprehensive Water Quality Monitoring Program, which included a three year baseline monitoring project and is designed to assess indicators for both environmental and human health.


View All Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/01/2014

Implementation details:
Since 1993, the City of Minnetonka has implemented a water quality monitoring program that includes routine monitoring of approximately 20 water bodies on a three-year cycle. Under the current program the monitoring data is evaluated and compared to established goals and standards. However, the monitoring program did not take the program a step further to identify BMPs to protect water quality. Recently, the City of Minnetonka was awarded $129,000 accelerated implementation grant funds from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR). The clean water funds will be utilized to conduct water shed assessments of 14 selected water bodies. These assessments will be used to identify priority areas for the installation of best management practices; stormwater management; and water quality treatment efforts to protect or improve the water quality of the city’s natural resources. Additionally the identified BMs will be used to inform the city’s CIP program as well as identify practices to address known water quality issues of several impaired waters.

For more information contact:
Drew Ingvalson (City staff)   |   dingvalson@eminnetonka.com   |   952-939-8293

View All Minnetonka Actions

New Hope

Date action report first entered:   04/08/2015
Date of last report update:   11/19/2018
Year action initially completed:   2015
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
The Bassett Creek and Shingle Creek Water Management organizations both report on measureable, publicly announced surface water improvement targets. It is estimated that the Northwood Lake stormwater improvement project will result in an average annual phosphorous removal of 39%, or 30.48 pounds. These best management practices collect stormwater from a 110-acre total drainage area.

Descriptive links: https://www.newhopemn.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=9826709&pageId=11181739

For more information contact:
Jeff Alger (City staff)   |   jalger@ci.new-hope.mn.us   |   763-531-5119

The Bassett Creek and Shingle Creek Water Management

View All New Hope Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/29/2012

Implementation details:
The City of Austin works closely with the Cedar River Watershed District and local conservation groups in promoting and facilitating citizen education and shoreland and water quality management.

For more information contact:
Janet Anderson (Community volunteer)   |   janetanderson2840@gmail.com   |   5072190680

City, CRWD

View All Austin Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/17/2016
Date of last report update:   05/17/2016

Implementation details:
In the Summer of 2016, the city of Barnum will undergo treatment for Eurasian Milfoil in Bear Lake to improve water quality, the city operated campground located on the lake, as well as the public access boat landing.

For more information contact:
Brett Collier (City staff)   |   bcollier@scicable.com   |   218-389-6814

View All Barnum Actions


Date action report first entered:   09/07/2016
Date of last report update:   09/07/2016

Implementation details:
Crystal is a part of the Bassett Creek and Shingle Creek Watershed Districts/Management organizations. Both watersheds measure and publish surface water improvement targets on their websites (link to both is on the City's website).

For more information contact:
Anne Norris (City staff)   |   Anne.Norris@crystalmn.gov   |   763-531-1140

View All Crystal Actions

Elk River

Date action report first entered:  

Implementation details:
The City of Elk River works extensively with the Lake Orono Improvement Association on events, shoreland and water management, and citizen education. Elk River's "Environment Bound" television show has featured episodes about improving Lake Orono's water quality.

For more information contact:
Amanda Bednar (City staff)   |   ABednar@ElkRiverMN.gov   |   763-635-1068

View All Elk River Actions

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Date action report first entered:   04/15/2015
Date of last report update:   04/15/2015

Implementation details:
Work in collaboration with MPCA and Soil and Water 5 Conservation districts. The reservation is also connected with lake association and the Mississippi Headwaters Association.

For more information contact:
Brandy Toft (City staff)   |   air@lldrm.org   |   218-335-7429

View All Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Actions


Date action report first entered:   03/22/2014

Implementation details:
In the Surface Waters Management plan the city lays out a goal of getting the impaired lakes within the area off of the Minnesota Pollution Control Impaired waters list. In March of 2014, city staff, along with other stakeholder presented at a public meeting on Wakefield lake and nutrient loading. In the presentation the city provided information on past project and future plans for how staff can reduce the phosphorus levels in Wakefield lake and the Phalen Casey chain of lakes. Provided is a link to that presentation. http://www.ci.maplewood.mn.us/documentcenter/view/10861

Descriptive links: http://www.ci.maplewood.mn.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=1550

For more information contact:
Shann Finwall (City staff)   |   shann.finwall@maplewoodmn.gov   |   651-249-2304

View All Maplewood Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/19/2016
Date of last report update:   02/04/2019
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
The City provides ongoing education on water quality issues through the annual report for the Wood Lake Nature Center. In February of 2019, the City adopted a surface water management plan for all three watershed districts that Richfield encompasses, including Nine Mile Creek, Minnehaha Creek and the Richfield-Bloomington watershed. The latter has its own management organization (12/19/83) and management plan (July 2008) to preserve and use natural water storage and retention systems.

For more information contact:
Jeff Pearson (City staff)   |   jpearson@richfieldmn.gov   |   6128619791

View All Richfield Actions


Date action report first entered:   08/02/2011

Implementation details:

View All Rochester Actions


Date action report first entered:   01/13/2015
Date of last report update:   02/11/2015

Implementation details:
The city's Water Management Plan adopts and reports on measurable, publicly announced surface water improvement targets for water bodies.

For more information contact:
Ryan Johnson (City staff)   |   Ryan.johnson@cityofroseville.com   |   651-792-7049

View All Roseville Actions

Saint Anthony

Date action report first entered:   05/05/2011

Implementation details:
The City of St. Anthony works with Three Rivers Park District, RCWD, MWMO, Ramsey Conservation District, and the Silver Lake Homeowners Association to acheive water quality improvements at Silver Lake. The City annually provides a public meeting to present and solicite public input into their surface water management activities.

For more information contact:
Jay Hartman (City staff)   |   jay.hartman@ci.saint-anthony.mn.us   |   612-782-3314

View All Saint Anthony Actions

Saint Cloud

Date action report first entered:   05/12/2011

Implementation details:
St. Cloud is an active member of the Central Minnesota Water Education Alliance (CMWEA) providing education outreach to promote water quality stewardship. It is a coalition of central Minnesota cities, counties and other organizations working in concert to provide consistent water quality educational message in a cost-effective manner. The ongoing public education campaign includes rain barrel sale, a video contest, a water blog, eco-graffiti, and a number of other innovative educational efforts.

Descriptive links: http://mnwaterconnection.com/index.php

For more information contact:
Liz Kramer (City staff)   |   elizabeth.kramer@ci.stcloud.mn.us   |   320-255-7226

View All Saint Cloud Actions

Saint Paul

Date action report first entered:   12/23/2014
Date of last report update:   12/23/2014

Implementation details:
The City is working with partners, including CRWD, Roseville and Falcon Heights to implement the Como Lake TMDL Implementation plan. LMRWMO WRAPS project, which includes Pickerel lake, was approved by the EPA in 2014. This project had an extensive stakeholder involvement process.

For more information contact:
Kurt Schultz (City staff)   |   kurt.schultz@ci.stpaul.mn.us   |   651-266-6590

View All Saint Paul Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/01/2013

Implementation details:
Yes. The MS4 permit from the MN Pollution Control Agency regulates stormwater discharge within the City. Annual reports and updates are submitted to both the State and given a hearing before the City Council.

For more information contact:
Ellen Brenna (City staff)   |   ebrenna@shoreviewmn.gov   |   651-490-4665

View All Shoreview Actions

White Bear Lake

Date action report first entered:   03/25/2013

Implementation details:
The City follows TMDL requirements of its 4 watersheds, and regularly works toward improving water quality, and reducing our load. TMDL loads are reported to the public in the City's storm water pollution prevention program. Water quality communication and education is provided to residents in the storm water pollution prevention program, as well as in our bi-annual environmental newsletter.

For more information contact:
Connie Taillon (City staff)   |   ctaillon@whitebearlake.org   |   651-429-8564

View All White Bear Lake Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/27/2013

Implementation details:
The City of Woodbury and the three watershed districts with jurisdiction in the city, Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District, South Washington Watershed District and Valley Branch Watershed District, all have adopted Surface Water Management Plans with goals for water bodies. The city has adopted numeric goals and reports the annual “lake grade” based on lake monitoring of the city lakes on the city website. The adopted goals should also be sufficient to address any impairments for lakes that are currently listed as impaired by the MPCA.

For more information contact:
Sharon Doucette (City staff)   |   sdoucette@ci.woodbury.mn.us   |   651-714-3538

View All Woodbury Actions

Rosemount pending

Date action report first entered:   03/07/2012

Implementation details:
The Wetland Health Evaluation Program engages citizen volunteers to help monitor wetlands in their community.

Descriptive links: www.mnwhep.org.             view file

For more information contact:
Anthony Nemcek (City staff)   |   anthony.nemcek@ci.rosemount.mn.us   |   651-322-2090

View All Rosemount Actions

pending means a star rating has not yet been assigned to this city

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