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Here you'll find info, surveys, and updates related to VLAWMO's upcoming 2027-2036 Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan. 

Introduction

At the Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization (VLAWMO), we’re updating our 10-year Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan (Plan). The initial phases of this update began by conducting engagement and gathering feedback from the public and stakeholders that will be incorporated into the next generation Plan. The engagement phase provides avenues for us to hear from our stakeholders, convene engagement activities, and incorporate what we hear. The new Plan will guide our projects and programs from 2027-2036.

 

Summary of Public Engagement: Spring 2024

Beginning the year in 2024, VLAWMO conducted a public survey for those who live, work, and visit the watershed. The public survey was open from February 5th to March 13th. The survey was available for digital submission and in-person at survey stations at local Ramsey County libraries and Tamarack Nature Center.

Two additional surveys were developed and administered. One of those surveys was targeted to VLAWMO partner organization representatives and the VLAWMO Technical Commission.  The other incorporated feedback received from the public and partner surveys and was administered to the VLAWMO Board of Directors. 

The findings from all three surveys as well as responses from Plan review agencies were used to form the Watershed Management Plan's priority issues, which are to be finalized in summer, 2024. Click here for the letters received from Plan review agencies and authorities. 

Initial Engagement Activities:

60-day Comment Period (Dec 14, 2023 - Feb 13, 2024) 

Virtual Coffee Chats (Feb 13, 20, 27)

VLAWMO Grants Program 101 (March 7)

Initial Planning Meeting (April 24)

 

  

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Public survey results:

Public survey results

Appendix 1: Public survey results chart

Appendix 2: Qualitative summary for survey questions #4 and #6

Survey Results Summary

Survey results: Top three responses for each question

1) What is your relationship to the watershed?

  • Resident
  • Non-resident visitor
  • Public employee

2) Which community/ies do you live in, work in, or recreate in?

  • Vadnais Heights
  • North Oaks
  • White Bear Lake

3) What issues concern you regarding our lakes, streams, wetlands, and natural areas?

  • Protecting drinking water
  • Protection and promotion of sustainable groundwater supplies
  • Protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat

4) What resources (lakes, rivers, streams, parks, trails are you most passionate about and why?

  • Vadnais-Sucker Park and lakes
  • Pleasant Lake and beach
  • Deep Lake/Birch Lake (tie)

5) What is your preferred way to keep informed on the progress of the watershed plan?

  • Website
  • Email list
  • VLAWMO communications (newsletter, social media, etc.)

 6) Is there anything else you’d like us to know as we conduct the planning process?

  • Suggestions for projects/programs
  • Ideas and brainstorming for efforts peripheral but complimentary to VLAWMO’s mission
  • Positive and negative feedback
Question 4: The "Why"

When asked about the "why" behind what lakes, streams, parks, and trails are most important to the public, the top 5 themes were:

1) Recreation, wildlife, and the value of natural resources.

2) Being motivated by what’s close to home and visible, or by the interconnections we have with water.

3) Water quality, groundwater, drinking water, and water conservation.

4) The importance of future uses of water and natural resources.

5) Aquatic vegetation, climate change, and flooding.

Why create a plan?

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Watershed Management Plans are the result of consensus building across many agencies, organizations, businesses, and most importantly the public. VLAWMO is a local government agency that reports to the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR).

Organizations such as VLAWMO are required to create these plans by law, and BWSR serves as a supervisory agency in the process. The Minnesota Statutes and Rules that pertain to VLAWMO’s plan and work include:

  • Minn. Stat. § 103B.201: Metropolitan Area Surface Water Management Act
  • Minn. Stat. § 103B.211: Joint Powers Watershed Management Organization.
  • Minn. Stat. §103B: Watershed Planning and Project Implementation
  • Minn. Rules 8410: Metropolitan Water Management

The VLAWMO watershed consists of all or parts of the City of Gem Lake, the City of North Oaks, the City of Lino Lakes, the City of White Bear Lake, White Bear Township, and the City of Vadnais Heights. VLAWMO was created by a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) with these member municipalities. An elected official from each municipality sits on VLAWMO’s Board of Directors (BOD). Each municipality also designates a representative for the VLAWMO Technical Commission (TEC).

VLAWMO’s member municipalities, the BOD, and the TEC will work together to form this upcoming Watershed Management Plan. But there’s one more essential ingredient – community and public input (that’s you!)

How does it affect me?

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The Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan provides a roadmap for 10 years of projects and programs to improve local water resources. The Plan facilitates connections with the watershed, and provides clear goals and objectives for how VLAWMO uses public funding to accomplish shared water resources goals.

The Plan is a tool for protecting and improving local water resources. Examples include:

  • Groundwater conservation strategies
  • Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) protocols
  • Wetland protection rules and regulations
  • Being accountable to larger regulatory agencies such as the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR)
  • Surface water management including monitoring, project implementation, and maintenance
  • Water quality improvement and pollution prevention (salt, bacteria, nutrient pollution, etc.)
  • Surface water storage for flood control
  • Grants for residents and local organizations, and support for initiatives to build water-friendly landscape solutions (raingardens, native plantings, lo-mow turf, bee lawns, etc.)
  • Support for drinking water and recreational opportunities
  • Communication and education
  • Increasing climate resiliency

Plan Development

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Priority issues will guide VLAWMO's focus and programming for the life of the Plan. The priority issues are developed from analysis of survey results (Public, Board, and Technical Commission), a capital improvements partner table, and responses from the 60-day plan notification. 

The priority issues are being developed in June 2024 and considered at the June 26 VLAWMO Board of Directors meeting. Check back here for updates. 

Resources

The upcoming 2027-2036 Watershed Management Plan will be VLAWMO’s third plan since the Minnesota Surface Water Management Act was enacted in 1982. Check out the following resources for more context on how Watershed Management Plans guide our work and in turn benefit the community.

2017-2026 Watershed Management Plan

2017-2026 Watershed Management Plan Summary

Appendix A

Appendix B