Programs and Policy
The City of Minneapolis has implemented key Storm and Surface Water Management initiatives that are designed to carry out its responsibilities and goals:
Stormwater Discharge Management Program
The 1977 Clean Water Act gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to implement pollution control programs for regulating discharges of pollutants into surface waters. With this authority, the EPA created the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. The EPA has delegated permitting authority for Minnesota’s NPDES program to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
The NPDES program mandates operators of a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) have a NPDES permit. Communities that have a minimum population of 100,000 must have a Phase I NPDES stormwater discharge permit. Recently the EPA added Phase II permit requirements for urbanized communities with a minimum population of 50,000, if not already covered by a Phase I permit.
The MPCA issued Minneapolis first NPDES Municipal Stormwater Discharge permit on December 1, 2000, and issued the existing permit on January 21, 2011. The NPDES permit requires Minneapolis to implement approved stormwater management activities. They are designed to mitigate the pollution effects of urbanization on stormwater runoff, as well as to provide annual program reporting. These activities include:
- Installing and properly maintaining water quality ponds and grit chambers
- Street sweeping
- Controlling the use of pesticides and fertilizers
- Providing educational efforts to raise community awareness and understanding of stormwater issues. For more information, see Maintenance & Operations. The Permit requires the development of a new Stormwater Management Program, which will be submitted to the MPCA on July 20, 2011.
Flood Mitigation Program
Minneapolis experienced a series of rainstorms in July of 1997 that caused severe flooding throughout the City, resulting in physical damage to homes, businesses and vehicles.
In November 1997, Minneapolis City Council adopted a Flood Mitigation Program aimed at minimizing localized flooding, as well as providing equal levels of flood protection to all areas of Minneapolis. For information about floods, see Flood Control and Flood Information.
Local Surface Water Management Plan (LSWMP)
The City of Minneapolis completed its LSWMP in October, 2006. The Metropolitan Area Surface Water Management Act was created by Minnesota legislature to protect surface water resources. It resulted in the creation of Watershed Management Organizations (WMO) that were given the role of managing individual water bodies in the Twin Cities area. There are four in Minneapolis, including:
- Bassett Creek Water Management Commission (BCWMC)
- Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD)
- Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO)
- Shingle Creek Watershed Management Commission (SCWMC)
Each municipality creates and implements its own local water management plan, consistent with those of the watershed management organizations within its boundaries. For more information on the four WMOs in Minneapolis, see Partnerships. For more information on the City’s Local Surface Water Management Plan, see the City’s LSWMP web page.
Combined Sewer Overflow Program – Phase 2
Minneapolis has implemented an aggressive program to eliminate Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). CSOs can occur when stormwater from heavy rains overload City storm drain pipes. These storm drain pipes can overflow into sanitary sewer pipes, which sometimes discharge mixed sewage and stormwater into the Mississippi River. For more information about CSOs and what you can do to help, see the Citys CSO web page: Combined Sewer Overflow - A Minneapolis Solution
Stormwater Utility Fee
The City of Minneapolis changed the way it bills its customers for providing stormwater management services in March, 2005. Since then, the costs for providing stormwater management has been listed as a separate line item on the City's utility bills. Prior to 2005, these costs were included in a single fee, which combined storm drain and sanitary sewer services .
Minneapolis and other urban environments have significant amounts of impervious area (including buildings, parking lots, streets, alleys, driveways and sidewalks). These surfaces stop stormwater (rain or melting snow) from naturally absorbing into the ground. In an urban environment, the amount of impervious area on is the most significant factor affecting stormwater quality and quantity.
In the interest of enhanced accountability and cost reporting, as mandated by Federal and State regulations, the Stormwater Utility Fee was established in 2005. This fee provides a funding structure specific to the storm drain system and stormwater management activities. Stormwater Fee revenue directly supports the planning, maintenance, operation, and upgrade of existing stormwater facilities, as well as the expansion of the Minneapolis stormwater management system. It is also used to fund stormwater management and water quality programs.
Last updated Jan. 30, 2012