WW-06946 Reviewed 2008
Accessing Information to Protect Water Quality
Shoreland Best Management Practices
Number 16 of 18 in the Series
Best Management Practices (BMPs) are actions you can take to reduce your impact on the environment. BMPs have been described for agriculture, forest management, and construction. This fact sheet describes BMPs you can adopt on your shoreland property to help protect and preserve water quality. In many cases, the best management for shorelands may be retaining the natural characteristics of your property.
Information and assistance are available from many public agencies and organizations that work in partnership with shoreland property owners, lake associations, public officials, and private enterprises to protect water quality. This fact sheet is intended to direct you to the appropriate source of information as you undertake protection strategies or adopt BMPs on your shoreland property.
Assistance may be in the form of:
Listed below are some common questions people have and which agency would be the most appropriate to contact. Locations, addresses, and telephone numbers are listed later in this fact sheet.
The following list is categorized by the level at which you might best access information and assistance - local, state, or federal. A brief description of services is given, as well as how to access either by telephone or in writing.
Your county water plan coordinator is a good place to start because she or he has knowledge of, and access to, many other resources. The Water Management Act of 1986 (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 110B) encouraged counties to develop and implement comprehensive local water management plans. In Minnesota, all non-metro counties have completed and adopted water plans, and are now in the process of implementation. The responsibility for implementation varies by county. In some counties, the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has the primary responsibility, and in others it is the responsibility of the county planning, zoning, or environmental services.
Access: Call your county SWCD or University of Minnesota Extension Service office for help identifying your county water plan coordinator.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts
SWCDs were formed nationwide to conserve soil and water resources, and are local units of government within each county. Their objective is the control and prevention of soil erosion and water pollution. This is carried out through:
Access: Look in the phone book under county office listings.University of Minnesota Extension Service
University of Minnesota Extension Service provides education on protecting our water resources with an emphasis on reaching people with practical, understandable methods. These include:
INFO-U is a 24-hour service that gives you telephone access to University of Minnesota research-based information. Recorded information is available on environmental issues, safe drinking water, yard waste disposal, lawns, shrubs, and trees. Contact your county extension office to receive a brochure listing the topics and how to use this system. Web address: http://www.extension.umn.edu/infou.html
The Minnesota Waterline, a toll free number with knowledgeable staff to answer your questions, is 1-800-455-4526.Minnesota Sea Grant Extension Program, University of Minnesota
Lake Superior and Minnesota water resources are the focus of research and educational programs of the Minnesota Sea Grant Extension Program located on the Duluth and St. Paul campuses of the University of Minnesota. Presentations, workshops, publications, and audiovisual materials are available on research findings and expertise in these areas:
Health/environmental services departments enforce public health regulations and assist in areas that affect water resources and shoreland property owners. Many functions deal with individual septic systems. The county health department:
The zoning department regulates landuse to encourage the most appropriate use of land, while preserving economic and environmental values. It also administers and enforces the zoning ordinances, except in incorporated cities and townships that have their own zoning administration.
County governments carry out solid waste programs including management of landfills and transfer stations, collection of household hazardous waste, and coordination of recycling activities. Access: Look in your phone book under county office listings for health, zoning, planning, or solid waste departments.Lake Associations
Lake property owner associations have been formed for many lakes in Minnesota. The purpose of a lake association can vary. They may be organized mainly for social and security reasons, around a specific issue such as weed control, for political purposes, or to encourage activities such as water quality testing or placement of navigational buoys. Individual lake associations may join together to form county Coalitions of Lake Associations (COLAs).
Access: Contact your county water plan coordinator to find out about lake associations in your area. For assistance in organizing a lake association, contact your county water plan coordinator, county office of the University of Minnesota Extension Service, or the Minnesota Lakes Association at:
The BWSR works with local units of government to help them develop local resource management capabilities. Some of the areas it is involved in are wetlands, shoreland erosion, water quality education, feedlots, nonpoint source pollution and local water planning. Publications, slide presentations, and technical assistance are available. BWSR has regional offices in Bemidji, Brainerd, Duluth, Marshall, New Ulm, Rochester, and St. Paul.
Within the MDH, the Division of Environmental Health has these responsibilities related to water resources and shoreland property owners:
MDH issues permits for well construction and well sealing notification; a well may not be constructed or sealed until after it has received the appropriate notification. Publications and videos are available on well construction and abandonment, well disinfection, water quality, ground water contamination, water treatment devices, and well disclosure.MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
Within the DNR, three divisions deal most directly with water resources—Waters, Fish and Wildlife, and Forestry. The DNR has regional offices in Bemidji, Brainerd, Grand Rapids, New Ulm, Rochester, and St. Paul. The DNR has a Minnesota toll-free number to provide you with information on materials available and DNR facilities, services, and regulations: 1-800-766-6000 (TTD 1-800-657-3929).DNR - Division of Waters:
The Division of Waters is a regulatory division that provides technical and educational assistance to local government units and citizens. It has regulatory jurisdiction over the alteration of protected lakes, rivers, and wetlands, and water use. Shoreland property owners need to contact the division prior to altering lakes, rivers, or wetlands below the ordinary high water level to obtain information and to determine if a permit is needed. Programs include:
Access: Contact Area Hydrologists in regional or area offices.DNR - Division of Fish and Wildlife - Section of Fisheries/Section of Wildlife:
The Section of Fisheries works in the area of fish management and water quality as it relates to fish and other aquatic life. It issues permits on aquatic plant management and fish stocking and transportation. Publications are also available.
Access: Contact the nearest regional office.
The Section of Wildlife can provide information on how to improve your wetlands for wildlife and the value of wetlands for wildlife. It can also give alternatives on the control of beavers and exotic species.
Access: Contact the nearest regional office.DNR - Division of Forestry:
The Division of Forestry provides service to landowners on tree planting and care. Although it usually deals with large stands of trees on an ecosystem basis, staff can give advice about shade tree management on smaller land parcels. This division issues burning and timber harvest permits.
Access: Contact the nearest regional office.MN Pollution Control Agency (PCA)
The PCA regulates what goes into our water and conducts water quality studies through its three divisions of Air Quality, Water Quality, and Ground Water/Solid Waste. PCA issues permits that deal with the discharge of pollutants into the air, water, or land. It also carries out the enforcement of local, state, and federal regulations that deal with pollution control.
The PCA has regional offices in Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Duluth, Marshall, Rochester, and St. Paul.
Printed materials are available, as well as speakers on specific topics.
Access: Contact the nearest regional office or the PCA state information office at (612) 296-6300.
The NRCS is a conservation-oriented natural resource federal agency. NRCS offices are often co-located with SWCD offices and the two work together closely. They can:
Access: Contact the field office in most counties, listed in the phone book under U.S. Govern-ment, USDA.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Environmental Research Laboratory
Minnesota is home to EPA’s only Federal Freshwater Research Laboratory, located on Lake Superior in Duluth. This laboratory is the nationwide resource center of expertise on freshwater (lakes and streams) aquatic ecology and toxicology. Scientific publications on water pollution are available.
This fact sheet is one of a series designed to assist shoreland property owners in protecting and preserving water quality. The series includes:
This series of fact sheets is a cooperative effort of the following agencies:
University of Minnesota Extension Service, University of Minnesota
College of Natural Resources, University of Minnesota
Water Plan Coordinators of the Arrowhead counties
Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources
Minnesota Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife,
Division of Waters, Division of Forestry
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Minnesota Sea Grant Extension Program
Mississippi Headwaters Board
St. Louis County Health Department, Environmental Services Division
Soil and Water Conservation Districts of the Arrowhead counties
Natural Resources Conservation Services
Environmental Protection Agency
Western Lake Superior Sanitary Districtbr
These publications may be photocopied for local distribution. The addition of commercial names, products, or identifiers is not permitted. please do not add or delete any text material without contacting:
You may add information about contact persons or regulations specific to your county, region, or lake association.
University of Minnesota Extension Store St Paul, MN 55108-6069 612-625-8173
Produced by the Arrowhead Water Quality Team, a cooperative effort of Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis counties and state and federal agencies. All publicly funded agencies involved are committed to equal opportunity education, service, and employment.
In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, this material is available in alternative formats upon request. Please contact your University of Minnesota Extension office or the Extension Store at (800) 876-8636.