7.2.2 Review of LGU Plan Implementation
The District will maintain awareness of LGU plan implementation largely through the annual reporting and meeting framework. However, this will be supplemented through ongoing communication with LGUs and knowledge of developments within the watershed gained through other usual channels.
It is possible, then, that the District at any time may perceive that an LGU is not fully implementing its local water plan or meeting its commitments. In this case, the District will follow the course outlined here. This process is intended to ensure that the District has a full understanding of the LGU’s water resource program, that the District respects the LGU’s control of its own programs and its role in overseeing activity within its boundaries, and that the parties work collaboratively to ensure progress on mutual goals. At the same time, it is the District’s responsibility under watershed law to maintain oversight of local water plan implementation and to take steps as necessary so that water resource goals are met.
The following is a list of criteria that the District will consider when assessing LGU plan implementation. The approved local plan will contain the water resource management commitments the LGU has made. The District will review the progress the LGU has made in fulfilling those commitments, as follows:
Water Resource Permitting
(this subject will be relevant primarily when the LGU, through the local planning process, has elected to assume sole authority for water resource permitting in one or more areas covered by District rules and/or has elected to serve as the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) implementing authority):
- Have ordinances been adopted as described in the approved local plan and in response to any subsequent District rule revisions?
- Do they conform to MCWD-approved standards?
- Have the ordinances been applied as written?
- Where there is room for interpretation, has LGU discretion been exercised in a way that is sensitive to water resource protection?
- Has the MCWD been notified of variance requests per Minnesota Statutes §103B.211?
- Have technical expertise and program resources been maintained at levels described in the approved local plan?
- Has regulated activity been diligently monitored and have LGU ordinances and permits been diligently enforced?
- The same considerations, as applied to the LGU’s actions as WCA-implementing agency.
- Has good progress been made to integrate Safe Drinking Water Act and other protections for wellheads and sensitive groundwater resources into the development code, as described in the approved local plan?
- Has the LGU worked carefully to integrate low-impact development concepts into the development code and development review process?
- Has the LGU met local plan commitments to reconcile development code setbacks and water resource protection goals?
- Has the LGU revised its development code as necessary to require stormwater facilities and wetlands in residential subdivisions to be located on outlots?
- Has the LGU ensured that the District timely receives proposed preliminary plats and revisions, in accordance with the approved local plan?
- Are local plan commitments otherwise being met?
- Does the capital improvement program (CIP) continue to reflect the level of commitment toward water resource goals of the approved local plan?
- Is CIP implementation on schedule?
- Is the LGU making adequate progress toward achievement of phosphorus load reductions identified in the approved local plan?
- If issues have arisen that were unexpected or are beyond LGU control, has the LGU identified, and is the LGU pursuing, alternative strategies?
- Is the LGU diligently maintaining stormwater management facilities for which it is responsible?
- Have water resource protection priorities been integrated into parks, open space, recreation and land acquisition plans, and are those tools being diligently implemented?
- Are dedication and fee in lieu requirements under the development code being used to support water resource protection consistent with commitments in the approved local plan?
- Is the LGU diligently monitoring municipal open space lands, protected lands and vegetated buffer areas under its control?
Is the LGU meeting local plan commitments for street sweeping, snow plowing, salt and snow storage, right-of-way maintenance, stormwater management facility and vegetated buffer maintenance, public land management and other housekeeping matters with water resource impacts?
Is the LGU otherwise meeting commitments assumed under the approved local plan?
If District staff, at the direction of the Board of Managers or on the basis of its own review, has concerns about local plan implementation, the District will generally follow a process that emphasizes communication and collaboration to assess these concerns and identify approaches to addressing any deficiencies. Presuming the LGU has a similar interest in this approach, initially the process will involve staff-to-staff communication and a process of staff collaboration. District staff will report back to the Board of Managers and the District will seek to memorialize any agreed outcomes in appropriate fashion.
If District or LGU staff believes that, for any reason, adequate progress in resolving concerns is not being made, the Board of Managers and city council may be asked to convene an informal joint meeting.
Ultimately, if the Board of Managers is not satisfied with a resolution of concerns, it may schedule the matter for formal consideration on its agenda. LGU representatives will be invited to attend; District staff, LGU representatives and interested members of the public will have an opportunity to address the issues; and the Board will make a finding as to whether it believes the LGU is failing to implement its plan in an important way.
If the Board makes such a finding, it may take further steps within its authority as it judges will foster improved local plan implementation or allow resources to be focused on areas where they are more likely to leverage effective efforts. Examples of such steps would be:
- Requesting that the LGU engage in further discussions or provide written commitments.
- Reasserting District regulatory authority in a city that has assumed sole regulatory authority for any of the District’s rules.
- Establishment of one or more water management districts encompassing the LGU or parts thereof to fund District implementation of local plan commitments not being met.
- An action under Minnesota Statutes §103B.235, subdivision 4, requesting that the LGU be directed to implement its local plan.
At any time, an LGU may advise the District of further implementation steps taken and allow the Board of Managers to determine that the local plan is again being adequately implemented.
The Board also may take steps as outlined above where an LGU has not submitted or has not received approval of a local water plan in a timely way.