Public comment open for amended CRWD rules
Feedback on proposed changes being accepted through mid-May
Thursday, March 28, 2019 — Amended rules for the Cedar River Watershed District are open for public comment through mid-May as part of an extensive effort to improve the regulations that protect local waters.
First approved in 2011 and adjusted in 2015, the CRWD’s rules program covers areas related to stormwater, flood plains, waterbody alterations, erosion control and enforcement.
“These changes are intended to better fit the rules with the district’s goals while making them easier to understand and implement,” CRWD administrator Justin Hanson said. “These updates will help us deliver a program that’s more effective and consistent with the way we want to work with the public.”
Updating of the district’s rules is a transparent process that is best done when the community gives input, Hanson said. All comments will be considered as part of the evaluation process.
Revised rules are highlighted and easy to view online at the CRWD’s website — www.cedarriverwd.org.
“Our rules mainly are aimed at assuring better communication on projects that affect water quality and water quantity,” Hanson said. “Since the start of CRWD’s rules, we have worked with landowners and local road authorities to improve public safety and protect water resources.”
Key changes in the amended rules include:
- Required buffer — CRWD proposes to remove its 16.5-foot vegetative buffer requirement on private ditches, which do not have a requirement under the new state buffer law. This CRWD rule was a prescriptive width and does not assure the avoidance of erosion. Under the amended rule, CRWD would require steps be taken to assure the stabilization of disturbed areas and the growth of vegetation after construction. This typically will apply to ditch cleanouts.
- Enforcement rule — CRWD has issued fines to anyone who completed land/water work in the district without a permit, such as changing a culvert or cleaning a ditch. CRWD staff has been conflicted by that “blanket-fine program,” Hanson said. The amended rule maintains fines but allows CRWD staff to take context into consideration before assigning fines, providing flexibility for extenuating circumstances.
- Permit fees – CRWD is proposing no more fees for permit applications, which had been a $10 permit fee for the public. Extensive permit reviews, however, might have an associated cost charged only when staff need to commit unusually large amounts of time to review or respond to a permit or violation.
- Miscellaneous — CRWD edited language in the rules where there was a need for more clarification. Staff also adjusted its standards for seeding and erosion control.
CRWD staff and a subcommittee of the CRWD Board of Managers have worked extensively on reviewing the rules for potential improvements. That work also has involved the CRWD’s newly revamped Citizens Advisory Committee that provided three members for a special subcommittee that met twice with district staff.
All watershed districts in Minnesota are required by state law to implement rules to accomplish their purpose. Watershed district rules are intended to fill gaps in existing federal, state and local regulations, not duplicate them.
In 2011, the CRWD board approved the district’s first rules following almost two years of work. Those rules became effective late that year of the 2011 construction season.
Comments on the amended rules should be sent to CRWD’s Justin Hanson at: firstname.lastname@example.org