consultants are sandburs

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

RAMSEY - What's this mean? "Public wells," fine and good, but there are many, many, more private wells. Are we second class citizens, what?

I do not have time to watch everything, and it is amazing how much there is. Here, this quote:

2. Consider Recommending City Council Approval of Modifications to Stormwater Management Permits, Plans, and Ordinances: City Engineer Westby reviewed the staff report, historic measurement of rainfalls, and modification to the City’s stormwater management permits, plans, and ordinances to account for new stormwater management requirements recently adopted by the Lower Rum River Water Management Organization (LRRWMO) including the incorporation of Atlas 14 precipitation data and stormwater infiltration requirement revisions within its design criteria.

Because the current language in the City’s stormwater management permits, plans and ordinances discourages infiltration within the Drinking Water Supply Management Areas (DWSMA), staff proposes to modify that language to discourage infiltration only within delineated ten-year capture zones. He referenced exhibits that showed the existing DWSMA boundary in the area of The COR and associated 10-year capture zone boundaries surrounding public water supply wells.

I don't know about you, but when there is ambiguous code language that might affect my drinking water, I bristle.

What's the story? Any reader with helpful info is asked to email or post a comment.

It appears there is some second class citizenry dimension possible, and clarification is needed.

In response to an email inquiry, our mayor explained:

Nothing underhanded afoot here. There are new precipitation models that are causing watershed districts and WMOs to update stormwater management requirements related to infiltration and the rate and volume being discharged to surface waters.

The reference to the public water supply is due to differing requirements and practices that Dept of Health has in those areas. It doesn't mean that private wells are ignored, but there aren't the same policies in place that need updating.

More jargon, but WMO is defined here:


To protect surface water resources through the adoption and implementation of local water management plans based on watershed district (WD) and watershed management organization (WMO) priorities.

Map Showing Status of Metro Watershed Management Plans


WDs and WMOS have many similarities, including the requirement to conduct their activities according to an approved watershed management plan. In addition to plan requirements in statute, metro area WDs and WMOs must also abide by Minnesota Rules Chapter 8410, which spells out detailed plan requirements. Watershed management organizations differ from watershed districts in a number of ways:

WMOs are mandatory, not voluntary;
WMOs deal only with surface water, whereas watershed districts manage surface water and groundwater (metro area counties handle groundwater planning);
WMOs do not have individual taxing authority, unless their joint powers agreement specifically grants this authority, and most are funded by the municipalities that make up their membership; and
WMOs are governed by a board appointed by the member municipalities and townships.

More information about WDs and WMOs:

WD / WMO Overview
Citizens Advisory Committees in Joint Powers Agreement Watershed Management Organizations
Comparisons of Watershed Districts and Watershed Management Organizations


[links omitted]. Roughly as best as I understand it, stormwater leakage into sanitary sewer systems is a Met Council concern, so the 800 lb gorilla puts another reporting burden onto municipalities, whose planners are happy for the job security. That's perhaps a simplification, but, like I am somehow to know what a "WMO" is? Not so. But it seems Ramsey meeting a bureaucratic requirement is at play, and it does not apply to private wells, so the cost/bother is truncated. Bureucratic SNAFU, I emphasize that is NOT what our mayor said, I emphasize that, but instead it is my spin on things.

However, I bet I am right.

(I will let mixed metaphors in "underhanded afoot" go with only noting it, since I like the mayor. In the other sense, I like the mayor, mix metaphors frequently myself, so no criticism intended. It is actually a sign of high intelligence. Back to the subject: Possibly the public works agenda could have been a tad clearer concerning what was at issue and why. Those of us on private wells are productively paranoid, productive becauese we are under threat of phasing out all the time and such (such involving horrendously high possible SAC and WAC fees.))

FURTHER UPDATE: This seems related.

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