Responsibilities and authorities of the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization (VRWJPO) are provided under the Metropolitan Surface Water Management Act (Minn. Stat. Chapter 103B) and the Metropolitan Area Local Water Management Rules (Minn. Rules Chapter 8410). Under these laws, the VRWJPO develops and implements the Vermillion River Watershed Management Plan, which was revised and updated in June 2016.
The VRWJPO does not have land-use authority in the watershed. The majority of the 20 cities and townships within the VRWJPO individually has land-use authority and operates its own permitting program. As of 2017, the VRWJPO provides a permitting program only in Eureka Township. These permits are subject to VRWJPO Rules based on the Watershed Standards.
For the watershed as a whole, the VRWJPO adopts Standards through a public process. Standards are based on state law, watershed-specific conditions, and best practices for water management. The Standards establish what local governments must do to provide an acceptable level of water management and protection.
Each jurisdiction must develop a local water management plan (LWMP) consistent with the Watershed Plan and adopt local controls (e.g. ordinances) consistent with the Watershed Standards to ensure that water resources protection and management strategies are implemented.
Most of the VRWJPO’s activities are based on cooperation and partnerships. Its primary regulatory roles are:
- Review and approve local water management plans and local controls to ensure consistency with the Watershed Plan and Standards.
- Oversee and track implementation of local water management plans to ensure that the Standards are enforced through local controls.
- Review and comment on permits and land alteration plans prepared by local governments. These specific types of projects, as listed in the Standards, must be provided to the VRWJPO for review and comment.
- Projects affecting intercommunity flows (upon request from adjoining community)
- Project site size of 40 acres or more
- Projects that are adjacent to or appear to impact watercourses or unique natural resources
- Take action if a local government unit is not implementing its local controls. That action can include assuming responsibility for operating a permitting program in that jurisdiction.
- Work with appropriate regulatory authorities at the local and state levels to respond to reports of incidents, accidents, or violations.
- Collaborate on training and learning opportunities for local officials, inspectors, and contractors in regard to application of Standards, local controls, and best management practices.
- Cooperate in development of amendments to the Watershed Plan or Standards.