As you may know the Preserver Camp Coldwater Coalition has petitioned to give the Federal Land around the Coldwater Spring watershed protection through the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, whose land already boarders the property. Over 1200 people have signed a petition to support this action.

What the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) Metro Region Staff has recommended with the boundary change to the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) and the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District (LMRWD) is everything South of Highway 62 goes to LMRWD and everything North of Highway 62 goes to MCWD.

If you look at the map, this does not follow with the hydrology boundaries, nor does if follow with the current setup of, the water that flows to the Mississippi River is in MCWD and water that flows to the Minnesota River is in the LMRWD. Instead it follows the political boundary of Highway 62 with the highway itself being in the LMRWD.

This is contradictory to BWSR’s own statement that “When making boundary determinations, the board considers surface water hydrology as the primary determinant for the setting of a districts boundary.

What this does is allows Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to do road construction that crosses hydrology boundaries without crossing watersheds. This is exactly what MnDOT asked for, because they know that the preliminary work that they have done does not conform to the standards of MCWD but does conform to the less stringent standards of LMRWD. This is important to how Coldwater Spring flows because the construction of the road and sewer lines under it will cut into the bedrock of the area and potentially destroy water flow to the spring that runs 80 to 100 gallons a minute even through drought.

MCWD has set up regulations to protect ground water flow. LMRWD has not, nor have they shown any interest in doing so. This decision by BWSR allows MnDOT to do construction without protecting the valuable water resources and cultural significance in the area. The water resource of the Coldwater Spring is well known to State Hydrologists, to MnDOT hydrologists, State Historians, Fort Snelling, Fort Snelling State Park (who benefits from a stream created from the spring that runs through the park) Multiple Indian Tribes, and many local residents. The Cultural Significance of the area is supported by over 12 hours of oral testimony at the State Capital, and by MnDOT’s own Cultural Resource Assessment that even recommends that the area appears to be potentially Traditional Cultural Property, and that it may also qualify as a Sacred Place under Executive Order 13007, due to it’s connections to the Dakota and Ojibway tribes. It is also recognized as the Birthplace of Minnesota, by the State Historical Society.

Yet MnDOT still has not raised the grade of the road to make jack hammering into the bedrock unnecessary. Instead MnDOT is continuing to rely on best guess assumptions of the area as they have never done a full Hydrology Study to be sure that construction does not destroy the area. Worse yet, earlier construction shows ample evidence that construction IS destroying the water flow into the Minnehaha Creek Valley by destroying or damaging Black Ash seeps and destroying the water flow of a major spring at 50th street and Hiawatha Avenue. If construction continues as it has, there is NO REASON to believe that it won’t affect the Coldwater Spring.

This has prompted the MCWD to withdraw their petition to the land north of Highway 62 because the highway itself is outside of their boundary and they would not be able to regulate construction to protect the spring, but because the spring outlet would be within their boundary they would receive the blame when the spring dries up from construction. This decision was made by the MCWD because they believe current construction would very likely damage or destroy the Coldwater Spring but they would have no way to protect it. Therefore MCWD wants the spring outlet to be within whatever watershed would be responsible for monitoring construction. In this case that would be LMRWD who has no groundwater regulations.

How was this decision made? With three advisors on the BWSR board, one of whom is James (Jack) Frost. He is also a Met Council staff person, on the LMRWD Non Point Pollution Task Force, Metropolitan Airports Commission Deicing Task Force, is in the Ramsey Watershed Board, all of which makes his appointment to BWSR a potential conflict of interest as he appears to be regulating himself, and in the best interests of MnDOT, not the environment, or water resources. Furthermore the letter from BWSR is dated May 10, 2000 and the public was told during their April 27, 2000 public hearing on the issue that they would be give until 12 Noon May 11, 2000 to make any additional comments.

MCWD is still interested in the Coldwater area but is willing to take it only if they are allowed to protect it, by monitoring construction in the area. This can simply be done if BWSR follows it’s own primary determinates and follows hydrology boundaries rather than political boundaries.


Numbers for BWSR are...

Jim Anderson
University of Minnesota Extension
Char Kahler
Citizen Member
Darrell Bruggman
County Commissioner
Sharon Clark
Dept. of Agriculture
James (Jack) Frost
Watershed Representative
Leland G. Coe
Citizen Member
Jim Dahlvang
County Commissioner
Jerome Deal
Watershed Representative
Allen Garber
Dept. of Natural Resources
Ginny Imholte
Watershed Representative
Pat Bloomgren
Dept. Of Health
Paul Krabbenhoft
Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor
Rod Massey
Pollution Control Agency
Clair Nelson
County Commissioner
Allan Oehlke
Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor
Dwain Otte
Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor
Kathleen Roer
Citizen Member

BWSR websight is

Text of the BWSR Memorandum:

May 10, 2000
To: Metro Water Planning Subcommittee
From: BWSR Region Staff

Subject: Boundary Enlargements for Minnehaha Creek and Lower
Minnesota River Watershed Districts

Metro Region has been working with the Metropolitan Airports Commission and the adjacent watershed management organizations since the summer of 1999 to get the area around and including the Minneapolis/St Paul airport managed under MN Statute Chapter 103B. This area has never been subject to 103B. Why the area was previously excluded is not clear. Metro Region's primary concern was to ensure this area would be managed by a watershed management organization.

Metro Region believes the public interest and welfare will be served in this case, regardless of how the boundaries are finally disposed, because the end result will befull coverage under MS Chapters 103B and 103D. Based on information received as of May 10, 2000, Metro Region recommends the boundary determination be based primarily on the existing surface water drainage of the area in question. Metro Region supports setting the new boundary, as described in the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District's petition.
When making a boundary determination, the board is required under MN Statute Chapter 103B to consider whether the new boundary will benefit the public welfare and public interest, and advance the purposes of Chapters 103B and 103D. When making boundary determinations, the board considers surface water hydrology as the primary determinant for the setting of a district's boundary.

Both organizations are watershed districts and thus have the authority to manage the areas in question. Both have approved second-generation plans and the necessary financial resources. Both currently manage areas of land that contain significant regional resources, for example, MCWD — Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, Lake Minnetonka and Minnehaha Creek, and LMRWD — Savage Fen, Boiling Springs and Eagle Creek. Finally, both currently manage land areas that contribute directly to the Mississippi River.

It is clear, based on exhibits and testimony, the majority land occupiers and other interested parties have a preference for the area to be placed in the LMRWD. The exceptions to this are the Minneapolis Park Board (Park Board) and the Camp Coldwater Coalition (Coalition). The Park Board has a long-standing relationship with MCWD and would rather deal with a single district as it moves forward with park development in the affected area. While the Coalition is not a land occupier based on current ownership, the group represents an important historical, social, and cultural perspective advocating the protection and preservation the Camp Coldwater spring. The Coalition supports MCWD incorporating the contested area into its district.

Four water-related resources have been identified, either explicitly or implicitly, in the petitions. These are the Mississippi River, Minnesota River, Camp Coldwater Springs, and the black ash seeps along the Mississippi River near the outlet of Minnehaha Creek. Exhibits and testimony suggest the two water resources most likely to be impacted by the proposed projects in the area are Camp Coldwater and the black ash seeps. The extent to which they would be impacted is not well understood at this time.

Metro Region Conclusion
Metro Region's final recommendation comes from reviewing three alternative boundary scenarios with respect to the following criteria:
1. Full coverage under 103B
2. Surface water hydrology
3. Other factors
a. Parcel configuration I Land owner preference I Commonality of land use
b. Future projects
c. Ground water watershed

Metro Region has been working with the Metropolitan Airports Commission and the adjacent watershed management organizations since the summer of 1999 to get the area around and including the Minneapolis/St Paul airport managed under MN Statute Chapter 103B. This area has never been subject to lO3B. Our primary concern was to ensure this area would be managed by a watershed management organization. We believe the public interest and welfare will be maximized in this case, regardless of how the boundaries are finally disposed, because the end result will be full coverage under Chapters 103B and 103D.

Surface water hydrology has in the past been the primary determinant for the setting of a district's boundary. We believe surface water hydrology should again be the primary determinant of the expanded district boundaries.

Parcel configuration, commonality of land use, and the desires of land occupiers should be given consideration, however each is less important than surficial hydrology is in setting the boundary. Where possible BWSR should accommodate land occupiers as long as it does not impose an inappropriate boundary.

The two other issues we considered in developing our recommendation were
1) the proposed projects that will affect existing hydrology, and 2) ground water interaction with the water resources. While we believe the projects discussed will eventually be done, we do not think it is appropriate to set the boundary on the future hydrologic condition. Once the initial boundary is set, the two districts may change the boundary as the conditions change. While information about ground water will be important for the management of the water resources in the expanded districts, the groundwater watershed contributing to the springs will likely include areas in both districts.

There are many mechanisms outside of the boundary determination process that may be used by the districts to ensure the protection of the springs and other ground water fed resources. We recommend the districts either complete a plan amendment or enter into an agreement to bring the combined districts' resources to bear on the issue. We suggest the districts either enter into an agreement or provide plan amendments to the board as soon as possible and no later than six months following
the boundary determination. This allows the districts time to review existing and new ground water information, and develop the short- and long-term strategies necessary to protect the springs. Based on this opinion, we are back to making the determination based on existing surface water hydrology.

The areas north and west of Hwy 62 and Hwy 55 in the MCWD petition and not in the LMRWD petition should be planned for by MCWD. Surface waters in this area either drains to the outlet already within the district's boundary or straight to the Mississippi River. The area south of Hwy 62 in the LMRWD petition and not in the MCWD petition should be planned for by LMRWD. The remaining areas are contested. This includes the areas identified as "A" and the portion of area "B" south and west of and including highways 62 and 55 in the MCWD petition as amended.

Based on the information presented by the LMRWD we believe the majority of the surface water runoff from area A is to the Minnesota River. Therefore, the LMRWD should plan for this area. Metro Region considered three alternatives for the remaining contested area 1) all to MCWD, 2) all to LMRWD, and 3) split the area based on common land use and future hydrologic condition. In the end, after considering different configurations based on future hydrologic and land use conditions, we concluded we should remain with our current practice of setting the boundary using the existing surface water hydrology and secondarily on commonality of land use.

Therefore, Metro Region supports the LMRWD petition and would assign the MDOT outfall to be planned for and managed by the LMRWD. All surface water contributing to this outlet should go to the LMRWD.