Bill SF3298, a transportation housekeeping bill that contains an agreement between MnDOT and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD), has been passed into law. This agreement, in the form of an amendment, keeps the state law intact that says, no action can be taken that may diminish the flow to or from Camp Coldwater Springs. It does however, place the interpretation of that law, in the hands of MCWD, with a sitting Judge for judicial oversight.
This corrects a problem with the wording of the initial law, in that it could be interpreted so strictly, if you put your thumb into the ground, you could be diverting natural flow, and therefore would be in violation of the law.
The agreement between MCWD and MnDOT lays out the ground rules on how to proceed with a redesign of the 55/62 interchange to protect Coldwater Spring. It also sets the precedent of MnDOT answering to the watershed district, and the watershed district (who has regular open, public meetings) answering to the people.
On MnDOT's part, they are agreeing to raising and lining the road, to isolate it from the groundwater, as well as having the watershed oversee the project. See the design concept page.
In the event of a dispute between the two agencies, the agreement provides a "fall back" on Judge Franklin Knoll of Hennepin County, who has been sitting on this ongoing case for over 6 months and therefore has a background in the issue. To support the judge, is a third party independent consultant who has already suggested lining the road to isolate it from the groundwater.
This case will remain open for 30 months, in which time the Watershed or MnDOT can take the issue back to the judge if there are disagreements or problems. A new case and judge will not be necessary.
As a secondary measure, MnDOT will also have the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District oversight. This is due to the fact that when watershed oversight was first granted two years ago, Coldwater Spring was split between the two watersheds. MCWD has part of the recharge area plus the outflow, while Lower Mn gets the rest of the recharge area, which happens to be the section that the 55/62 interchange sits over.
After the 30 months the "judicial oversight" will be over. Then the responsibility remains on MnDOT to maintain the design, and the Lower Minnesota River Watershed has permanent responsibility to continue its oversight, because the interchange is technically in their watershed. (Unless MCWD sues MnDOT again)
WHAT HAPPENS NOW
Further developments will most likely happen at the Watershed District Meetings. MnDOT will present the plans when completed, and the watersheds will approve, disprove, or modify them so the Spring is protected as construction continues.
Both watersheds have open public meetings every two to four weeks.