Waterspot on – Surface Water Management in Anoka County

The Metropolitan Surface Water Management Act (1982) assigns planning and management responsibilities for water resources to local government units in the metropolitan area. Watershed Districts (WD) or Watershed Management Organizations (WMO) were established to prepare and implement comprehensive surface water management plans. In 1987 the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources was formed from other state agencies to establish rules and administer the program.

In Anoka County, two Watershed Districts (Coon Creek WD & Rice Creek WD) and five Watershed Management Organizations (Mississippi WMO, Upper Rum River WMO, Lower Rum River WMO, Sunrise River WMO and Vadnais Lake Area WMO) are responsible for preparing plans to:

  • Protect and preserve natural surface and groundwater resources;
  • minimize public expenditures to correct flooding and water quality problems;
  • plan for means to protect surface and groundwater quality;
  • prevent erosion of soil into surface water systems;
  • promote groundwater recharge; and
  • protect and enhance wildlife habitat and water recreational facilities.

The WMO/WD collaborates with each city or township within their watershed to create and implement its own local water management plan. The first plans established a variety of local controls to reduce erosion and sedimentation, storm water design standards (to reduce water pollution), and protect wetlands. During planning and implementation, communities within the watersheds developed stronger working relationships.

Watershed areas in Anoka County

Watersheds (Anoka County Geographic Information System)



In 1992, the Board of Water and Soil Resources developed rules (Minnesota Rules Chapter 8410) for plan content and updates every 5 to 10 years. Local programs emphasize greater citizen participation, control of erosion and sedimentation, wetland assessment, and the design of new storm water conveyance, ponding, and treatment systems.

Although surface water and groundwater share a connection in Anoka County, they are essentially dealt with separately in Minnesota law. Surface water management is addressed through WMO/WD plans; groundwater management is addressed through water coordination within Anoka County. The Anoka County Water Task Force, comprised of representatives of communities, watershed organizations, lake improvement districts, county agencies, well drillers, realtors, property managers and citizens collaborated to produce the Water Resources Report (2014). The Task Force collaborates to identify and prioritize water issues that benefit residents, businesses and future generations. For more information see the Task Force brochure or contact Bart Biernat (763-422-6985, Bart.Biernat@co.anoka.mn.us) with Anoka County Environmental Services.

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