District Overview and Summary

What is the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District?

The Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District (RWMWD) is a special purpose governmental unit responsible for protecting the water resources of the watershed, located in the eastern portion of Ramsey County and the western edge of Washington County, Minnesota. The District was established in 1975 under the Minnesota Watershed District Act. More information on the Minnesota Watershed Act and watershed District authorities is available on the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) web site. The Watershed Act recognizes that water resources are best managed on a watershed scale and that hydrological boundaries rarely match political boundaries, so it established watershed districts to integrate water management efforts between city, county and state agencies.The Watershed Act provides Districts with planning, regulatory and taxing authority to carry out their purposes.

RWMWD covers approximately 65 square miles that ultimately drain into the Mississippi River. The watershed includes seven small watersheds that each drain to the Mississippi River; the Phalen Chain of Lakes, Beaver Lake, Beltline Interceptor, Battle Creek, Fish Creek, Grass Lake and the Blufflands area.There are 5 major creeks, 18 lakes and hundreds of wetlands within the RWMWD.

The RWMWD also includes all or part of 12 cities in Ramsey and Washington Counties: These cities include St. Paul, Woodbury, Oakdale, Landfall, North St. Paul, Maplewood, Little Canada, White Bear Lake, Vadnais Heights, Gem Lake, Shoreview and Roseville.

A five-member Board of Managers governs the RWMWD; four are appointed by the Ramsey County Board and one by the Washington County Board. As required by state law, the RWMWD has developed a comprehensive watershed management plan that describes the existing water resources and water-related problems within the watershed, possible solutions to the problems and the objectives of the RWMWD. The plan sets forth the goals and direction of the RWMWD.This plan is available for download on this web site.Click on the link provided on the home page or the one above.

The Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District was established February 24, 1975 by the Minnesota Water Resources Board pursuant to Minnesota Statutes Chapter 112 (recodified to MS Chapter 103D), the Minnesota Watershed Act, to effect the protection and provident use of the District's water resources.

In December 1975 an ad hoc citizens' group was formally appointed as an Advisory Committee to advise and assist the Managers in all matters affecting the District. The Board of Managers adopted rules and regulations for the District on February 27, 1976. The rules require permits or the review of floodplain construction, potential soil erosion, wetland development, plats and roads, drainage plans, water-related ordinances, water loss and withdrawal, and sanitation and waste disposal.

The Managers adopted an overall plan for the District on February 28, 1977. The Minnesota Water Resources Board approved the plan. Management plans for specific areas of the district were published in November 1977 (Battle Creek drainage area), February 1979 (area tributary to Carver Lake), January 1985 (Fish Creek/Bluff watershed) and November 1988 (Phalen Chain of Lakes watershed).

The District began to revise its overall plan in 1982, involving other governmental units in the process. The revised plan was officially completed in September 1986, when the Water Resources Board approved the new surface water management plan, "Stormwater Runoff and Water Quality Management Plan." The plan merges the District's watershed regulation and planning and construction activities with the related activities of municipalities, counties and soil and water conservation districts located within District boundaries.

The 1986 plan identified a major need to address resource management in the Phalen Chain of Lakes watershed. Studies identified specific improvement needs including the Phalen Chain of Lakes flood control project, the Target Pond project, and water quality improvements including the Gervais Mill Pond Project and the Kohlman Basin Project.

In 1994 the District began preparation of its "second generation" Watershed Management Plan. This plan was required by Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) rules (MS Chapter 8410) governing the content of watershed plans. This District planning process was completed in late 1996 and the plan was approved by BWSR in May 1997. The completion of this plan marked the beginning of an integrated resource management approach for the District. A new generation Watershed Management Plan was adopted in early 2007.

The District's collaborative planning approach has led to the identification of a number of water management problems that are addressed in the District plan through capital improvement needs or identified as District staff programs. Current and past District projects and programs are presented in the District Programs and Projects area of this web site.

What does the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District Do?
The District is involved in a number of programs and projects designed to achieve the goals and objectives defined in the District’s Watershed Management Plan. These programs and projects are described in detail in the District Programs and Projects section of this web site. The District’s major programs include:

  • Water quality protection

  • Stormwater management

  • Flood control

  • Lake management

  • Lakeshore restoration

  • Wetland management

  • Construction site permitting

  • Exotic species control

  • Native landscaping and habitat restoration

  • Water quality and biological monitoring

  • Watershed education

The mission of the RWMWD is to protect and improve the water resource and water related environment in the District. The RWMWD seeks to accomplish its mission through analysis of the causes of harmful impacts on the water resources, public information and education, regulation of land and water resource disturbing activities, and capital improvement projects. The Annual Report also reviews our recent activities.

Through its extensive analysis of the watershed, the RWMWD has been able to effectively identify the root causes of water quality degradation and flooding. The RWMWD has then successfully used this knowledge to develop and implement solutions that address these causes. These solutions include both nonstructural solutions (e.g. regulation of land and water use and public information and education) and structural solutions (e.g. construction of wet detention basins/wetlands, outlet control structures, stream channel maintenance and other projects). The District continues to refine its water resource analysis to identify solutions for new problems and issues. The District continues to seek solutions for complex issues related to urban nonpoint source pollution.

The District has hired staff to assist the Board of Managers in implementing its watershed management program. The District currently has thirteen full-time staff and several seasonal interns. The current District staff and their responsibilities are available by clicking here. The staff can be emailed through links from this page.

District Projects
The District has completed approximately 40 small and large capital improvements to address problems identified through the District's hydrologic modeling and watershed management plan. These projects have ranged in cost from $50,000 to $5.5 Million. Click here for a listing of current and past RWMWD Projects.

Budget and Finance
Each year, the District completes an audit of its financial activity as required by state law and provides historical information on its income and expenses. Click here for the most recent summary of the District's financial activity for the fiscal year. A complete copy of the current Audit Report is available at the District office.

The District funds are raised through three primary sources; property tax levy, grant funds, and local cost-share funding. Most of the District funds for operations and projects are from the District property tax levy (approximately 95%). This tax is an ad valorem tax (i.e., against all taxable parcels in the District based on property value). Over the last decade the District tax has averaged about 2% of the property tax total for a parcel or about $20 per year on a $100,000 value property.

In this web site we have also tried to provide a number of valuable web links for web-based resources. These links allow us to draw on other valuable web resources without recreating the information in our site, and also allow us to link you to innovative sites throughout the country. We encourage you to explore these links.

How Can I Find Out More About The Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District?
Feel free to contact the District office at office@rwmwd.org or by calling 651-792-7950. An email connection and direct dial numbers for specific staff can be accessed through the staff profiles and 'Contact Us" pages. The District office is located near Little Canada City Hall, at 2665 Noel Drive, Little Canada,  MN 55117. Follow this link for a map to the office.

Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, 2665 Noel Drive, Little Canada MN 55117