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. Each of the 20 cities and townships within the VRWJPO has land-use authority and operates its own permitting program. Therefore, 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 set out 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 consistent with the Watershed Standards to ensure that consistent water resources protection and management 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 that the Standards are established.
- Oversee and track implementation of local water management plans to ensure that the Standards are enforced.
- Review and comment on permits and land alteration plans prepared by local governments under delegated authority. Specific types of projects listed in the Standards must be provided to the VRWJPO for review and comment.
- Take action if a local government unit is not implementing the Standards. 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 and best management practices.
- Cooperate in development of amendments to the Watershed Plan or Standards.