Coon Rapids requests watershed district boundary change

The city of Coon Rapids wants all the property in the city to be part of the Coon Creek Watershed District.

The Coon Rapids City Council in April requested the transfer of some 290 acres from the Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organization to the Coon Rapids Watershed District.

This land in the northwest part of the city is the only property in Coon Rapids that is not currently within the Coon Creek Watershed District boundaries.

Both the watershed management organization and watershed district have signed off on the city’s request.

Now the Coon Creek Watershed District has filed a boundary change petition with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, the last port of call before the transfer becomes official.

According to Jim Haertel, metro region manager of the state agency, written comments are invited on the petition and those will be considered before the board makes a decision.

Anyone who objects to the boundary change petition can submit a written request for a hearing to the board, Haertel said.

But there was a Sept. 20 deadline and if no hearing requests are sent in, then the board will consider all of the comments and information in the petition and make a decision on the boundary change request at a regular meeting without having a public hearing.

According to Tim Himmer, city public works director, the boundary shift makes sense even though the area is not within the hydrologic boundaries of the Coon Creek Watershed District.

Himmer outlined three reasons.

• It would allow for a more efficient use of resources and minimize the cost of public capital expenditures.

• All water management activities for the city of Coon Rapids would be contained within a single watershed (Coon Creek Watershed District), simplifying the planning and reporting requirements and creating a more uniform set of policies and control.

• It would consolidate the official controls with regard to protection of groundwater and its beneficial use.

The city sees the boundary change “as a means of providing improved protection to the water resources,” said City Manager Steve Gatlin.

The Coon Creek Watershed District Board of Managers approved the city’s request in May.

Last year, the Springbrook Creek area totaling 15 square miles and including parts of southern  Coon Rapids was transferred from the Six Cities Watershed Management Organization to the Coon Creek Watershed District through action by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources.

The Six Cities Watershed Management Organization has dissolved.

The Coon Creek Watershed District currently manages 107 square miles of water resources in Anoka County to prevent flooding and water pollution plus 15 square miles that drain directly into the Mississippi River.

The watershed district was formed by citizen petition in 1959 and has the legal authority and obligation to develop and manage a uniform program of water and related land management under the Minnesota Watershed District Act and the Metropolitan Water Management Act, according to the Coon Creek Watershed District website.

Besides Coon Rapids, portions of Andover, Blaine, Columbus, Fridley, Ham Lake and Spring Lake Park are part of the district.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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