Water does not follow political boundaries such as city or county lines. A watershed's boundary is based on how the water flows in a particular area. Topography of the land, storm sewer pipes and groundwater flow all must be considered when determining a watershed boundary.
All land within the metropolitan area must be within an organized watershed (State Statutes Chapters 103B & 103D). A watershed organization is charged with protecting water resources within its boundaries. Watershed Districts are governed by County Commissioners while Water Management Organizations are governed on the municipal level.
VLAWMO was formed in 1983 to protect the Vadnais Lake watershed area in northern Ramsey County and a small portion of Anoka County, Minnesota. Vadnais Lake is used as the final water storage reservoir for the drinking water supply system operated by the St. Paul Regional Water Service (SPRWS). VLAWMO was formed through a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) that was ratified by the 6 units of Minnesota government that VLAWMO encompasses (City of Gem Lake, City of Lino Lakes, City of North Oaks, City of White Bear Lake, White Bear Township, and City of Vadnais Heights) to comply with the State of Minnesota Metropolitan Surface Water Management Act. VLAWMO is governed by a 6 member Board of Directors that is represented by an elected official from each of the communities. VLAWMO has a comprehensive Water Plan, approved by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, which guides water management through goals, policies, management strategies and an implementation program for the watershed. VLAWMO has been authorized by the Minnesota State Legislature to act as the local government unit responsible for administering the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) for this watershed area (to read the WCA documents click here. All construction and development activities that affect any wetlands in this area must be approved by VLAWMO.
VLAWMO shares the responsibility with its member communities to:
- manage stormwater and control flooding
- protect and manage wetlands through the Wetland Conservation Act
- require good erosion control practices
- promote good groundwater quality and healthy stewardship practices
- protect and enhance the water quality in lakes and streams
VLAWMO is empowered under Minnesota Statutes 103A – 103H to manage the Vadnais Lake area watershed. These statutes address:
- Protection of surface water quality. (This includes monitoring, maintaining, and in some cases improving quality.)
- Flood control and stormwater management.
- Wetland protection – and management through the Wetland Conservation Act and local efforts.
- Groundwater protection and recharge.