Comments sought on Rum River development variance in St. Francis

The DNR is seeking public comments on the City of St. Francis variance to wild and scenic rules applied to Rum Riverchapter 6105 .

Within a nearly 500-acre area of land along the Rum River on the City’s north side, the City of St. Francis is proposing to:

  1. Reduce the minimum riparian lot area from the required 4 acres to 20,000 square feet. See Minn. R. 6105.0110, subp. 2(B).
  2. Reduce the minimum non-riparian lot area from the required 4 acres to a density range of 2-7 units/acres. See Minn. R. 6105.0110, subp. 2(B).
  3. Reduce the minimum riparian lot width from the required 250 feet to 70 feet. See Minn. R. 6105.0110, subp. 2(B)
  4. Reduce the OHWL structure setback from the normal high water mark from the required 150 feet to 75 feet. See Minn. R. 6105.0100, subp. 3(B)(1).
  5. Allow attached housing as permitted uses instead of limiting development to single-family residential uses. See Minn. R. 6105.0100, subp. 3)
  6. Allow development to be processed through City’s Planned Unit Development (PUD) process instead of the Planned Cluster Development (PCD) process allowed in rule. See Minn. R. 6106.0140, subp. 3.

Variance to State Rules. The City has petitioned the DNR for the above-referenced variances pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, sections 14.055 and 14.056. The City’s petition requests that DNR grant “discretionary variances” to the above-referenced rules pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 14.055 subdivision 4. The DNR will review the application and consider all comments received in developing a decision.

Notice of Variance Petition

Variance Petition

The City of St. Francis has submitted the following documents as part of the petition:

Comments must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on April 26, 2019.

Email comments to Dan Petrik at .

Send written comments to: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Attn: St. Francis Variance – Dan Petrik
500 Lafayette Road, Box 25
St. Paul, MN 55155-4025

If you need documents in an alternate format, please contact Dan Petrik at 

Well water wise week 3W | May 6-10, 2019

The Anoka County Community Health and Environmental Services (CHES) Department, in cooperation with 15 municipalities and county agencies, is sponsoring the 20th annual Well Water Wise (3W) week promotion May 6-10, 2019 to encourage residents to check the safety of their private well water. For information on private well testing go to the Anoka County Environmental Services Well Water Testing webpage or call 763-324-4260.

County residents may pick up a well water test kit at participating city and township offices (listed below) or from Environmental Services, Suite 600 of the Anoka County Government Center, 2100 3rd Avenue in Anoka. Water samples can be submitted to the county’s Environmental Services Unit for analysis every Monday from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to noon.

DURING 3W WEEK, samples can be submitted Monday through Thursday (8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.) and Friday (before noon). The well water testing kit includes details about water collection and submission. A laboratory fee of $30.00 will be charged for coliform bacteria and nitrate-nitrogen analysis.

Unlike public water utilities, private well water is not treated with chlorine to prevent bacteria growth. Simply looking at the appearance of drinking water is not a reliable indicator of whether it is safe to drink. An annual coliform bacteria test is a good way to ensure that your drinking water continues to be free of bacteria.

Nitrate-nitrogen occurs naturally in groundwater and wells at concentrations below one milligram per liter (mg/L). Nitrogen can seep into private wells from a variety of sources including septic systems, nitrogen fertilizers, animal feedlots, and landfills. The Minnesota Department of Health has established a Health Risk Limit (HRL) for nitrate-nitrogen at 10 mg/L. Levels above that point may pose an immediate risk to infants and pregnant women.

The testing of private wells used for drinking water is the responsibility of individual owners. There are an estimated 25,000 private wells in service throughout Anoka County. Only a small percentage of them are tested annually. For more information about well water testing, call the Environmental Services Unit at 763-324-4260.

Pick up a well water testing kit at participating communities and agencies:

Attention lake residents

Fish kill events may provide clues about greater ecosystem-level issues such as fish affected by Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus (VHSv), water quality degradation, or invasive species. 

If you spot a fish kill this spring, please report it to the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center using the link below. Fish kills are fairly common – especially following a severe winter. Most fish kills are natural, and not cause for alarm. Researchers at the University of Minnesota will use the information to learn about fish diseases and ecosystem changes. They may even be able to isolate diseases that affect ONLY invasive carp, which may provide new management tools.

The best source of water quality reports come from lake residents and visitors

Protect your private well from flood contamination

With the risk of floods increasing in many parts of the state, Minnesota health officials urge private well users to prepare for the possibility that their wells might flood. Taking preventive action now may save well users more trouble down the road. 

Wells contaminated with floodwater pose a health risk, but the impact floodwaters have on wells and water quality are often not as visible as other flood damage.

If you think your well might become flooded, store a supply of clean water that will last for at least a few days. Shut off power to the well pump to avoid having floodwater pumped into your plumbing system or home. If you only have a little time before a flood, you can cover the well with a heavy plastic bag or sheeting and secure it with electrical tape. This won’t completely protect your well from contamination, but will help reduce the amount of water and debris that could enter your well.

If floodwater reaches your well, assume your well is contaminated.Water from a contaminated well should not be used for drinking, cooking, or brushing your teeth until the floodwater recedes and the following steps have been completed: 

  • Avoid electrical shock. Do not approach a flooded well until it has been completely disconnected from its power source. 
  • If floodwater covered your well or may have entered your well directly, have a licensed well contractor inspect the well, clean out sediment or debris, and disinfect it. Using your well pump to remove sediment or debris could ruin the pump. A directory of licensed well contractors is available on the MDH website at Licensed Well and Boring Contractor Directory.
  • If floodwater reached your well but you are confident that floodwater did not enter the well, have a licensed well contractor disinfect your well or complete the disinfection yourself. Detailed instructions are available on the MDH website at Disinfecting Flooded Private Water Wells.
  • After you or the licensed well contractor disinfects your well and pumps out the chlorine solution, contact Anoka County Environmental Services to get your well tested for coliform bacteria.
    • If your well water test comes back positive for coliform bacteria, repeat the disinfection and testing process. You may need to disinfect and test your well several times before your well is free of bacterial contamination. 
    • Do not use the water from your well until have been informed you that it is safe and free of bacterial contamination. 

If floodwater came within 50 feet of your well – but did not reach the well – consider having your well water tested for coliform bacteria as a precaution. You do not need to disinfect your well before having it tested. However, if the test comes back positive for bacteria, the well needs to be disinfected. 

For more information and testing information call the Anoka County Environmental Services at 763-324-4260.

Ramsey drinking water protection plan moving forward

A Public Information Meeting was held at Ramsey City Hall (Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 5:30pm) where Part 1 of the amended Ramsey Wellhead Protection Plan was presented to the Public Works Committee.

The City of Ramsey is updating and improving its wellhead protection plan for its water supply wells. The Minnesota Department of Health approved the amendment of Part 1 of the City’s plan. Part 1 (of 2) includes information pertaining to:

  1. The delineation of the wellhead protection area(s),
  2. The Drinking Water Supply Management Area boundaries, and
  3. An assessment of the vulnerability of the wells and DWSMAs.

A complete copy of the Part 1 plan amendment containing the technical information used to delineate the wellhead protection areas, drinking water supply management areas, and aquifer vulnerability of City wells is available at Ramsey City Hall. For more information contact Bruce Westby, Engineer, City of Ramsey at 763-433-9825.

Bruce Westby, Ramsey City Engineer, describing well capture zones.

Be prepared for a flood

UPDATE 3/15/2019: Record-setting spring flooding is possible across much of Minnesota. But state, local and federal officials are preparing now, cities are bracing for impact, residents should consider buying flood insurance, and everyone should have their fingers crossed for a slow snow melt. Those were the takeaways from Friday afternoon’s flood briefing hosted by HSEM.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Dan Luna said officials are worried about major flooding across “the whole state.” He added that benign weather and a slow snow melt are key to lessening the threat. Govenor Tim Walz praised local officials for planning ahead and urged people not to rely on the weather to help ease any potential threat.

Because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Flood risk isn’t just based on history, it’s also based on a number of factors: rainfall, river-flow, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to construction and development.

Although many floods are caused by huge storms like hurricanes, more floods occur every day from small, localized events, such as a typical afternoon thunderstorm. No matter where you live, it is important to remember that just a few inches of water in a home can cause thousands of dollars of damage.

Determine your Flood Risk at Is your property in a high risk or moderate to low risk area? Knowing your flood profile will help you understand your risk of financial loss. Simply enter your property address to see your relative risk, find links to flood maps, and other flood insurance community resources.

Flood maps determine your level of risk. You can also view current flood maps at FEMA’s Map Store. FEMA is producing new digitized flood maps for hundreds of communities. These new maps will reflect changes in floodplains caused by new development and natural forces.

Other Flood Precautions People Should Take
Being FloodSmart includes protecting your property before floods occur. Be sure that major appliances, electric switchboxes, outlets and heating equipment are well above potential flood levels. Install floating drain plugs and sewer system backflow valves to help prevent flood drain overflow.

Get a rain barrel & compost bin to recycle rainwater and reduce waste

Have you noticed a river of rainwater running down your driveway into the gutter, ditch, or storm sewer? Collecting rain-soft water is a good way to conserve and reuse high quality water. Rain barrels have been around for thousands of years. They also protect our local water while saving money on water bills and having a ready source of natural rainwater to nurture plants and gardens (instead of hard-chlorinated public water).

The Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) is holding a series of events to distribute rain barrels and compost bins. Pre-order a rain barrel, compost bin, or both on the RAM website and then pick up your order at the event of your choice. Some local distribution events include:

  • Sat. April 27th, 9am-12pm Noon (Compost Bins Only) at Chisago County Household Hazardous Waste Facility (39649 Grand Avenue, North Branch, MN 55056). [order]
  • Sat. May 4th, 8am-11am, at Brooklyn Park Operations and Maintenance Facility (39649 Noble Avenue, Brooklyn Park, MN 55443). [order]
  • Thurs. May 9th 4:30-6:30pm (Rain Barrels Only) at City of Hopkins Public Works (11100 Excelsior Blvd., Hopkins, MN 55343. [order]

YEAR ROUND SALE at Washington County Environmental Center during open hours at 4039 Cottage Grove Drive, Woodbury, MN 55129. [order]

For more information, please contact Mary at 651-641-4589 or email:

EDUCATORS: consider installing a rain barrel at your school as a practical tool to demonstrate the sustainable use of water resources outside the classroom window. Contact your local watershed management organization or the Anoka Conservation District to learn about education grants that may be available.

State fish art contest is open to K-12 contestants

The STATE-FISH ART Contest is open worldwide to all children in grades K -12 in any public, private or home-school, any youth group, after-school program, youth camp, scout troop, art class, etc., or just an individual kid that wants to enter!

Learning and creating through art

Essentially any child of K-12 age is eligible as long as a responsible adult reads, agrees to and signs their entry form. Only one entry per child will be accepted. “Every year, there are one or two very disappointed students because they, their teachers or their parents did not follow our simple requirements (rules). The unfortunate result is disqualification by the judges…very, very sad indeed.” ~ Karen R. Hollingsworth, Manager, STATE-FISH ART

Deadline to submit your entry is March 31st. Wildlife Forever’s STATE-FISH ART Contest is an exciting, multimedia conservation education program designed to increase awareness of and respect for aquatic resources creating stewardship.

Freezing problems and septic systems

According to many septic system professionals, a winter of cold temperatures and little snow can cause freezing of onsite systems.

Even in a normal Minnesota winter, freezing can occasionally be a problem. Identifying and correcting a potential freezing problem is far easier than dealing with a frozen system. Here are a few common causes of onsite system freeze‐ups.

  • Lack of snow cover – snow acts as a insulating blanket over the septic system.
  • Compacted snow – will not insulate as well as uncompacted snow.
  • Lack of plant cover – this often occurs with the instillation of a new septic in fall. A vegetative cover (grass) insulates the system and hold snow.
  • Irregular use of the system – When homes or cabins are unoccupied for long weekends no warm sewage is entering the system to help maintain temperatures above freezing.
  • Leaking plumbing fixtures and furnace drips – the slow moving water can freeze in sewer empty pipes that freeze over time.
  • Cold air entering the system – broken and uncapped riser pipes and manhole covers and allow cold air to enter the system.
  • What should you do if you septic system freezes – Contact a septic system professional. Unless the cause of the freezing is corrected, the system will refreeze next cold winter day. There are many wrong ideas about how to address a frozen septic system: Do NOT add antifreeze, salt or septic additives. Do NOT pump sewage onto the ground surface. Do NOT start a fire over the system Do NOT run water continually to try to unfreeze the system.

What should you do if you septic system freezes. Contact a septic system professional. Unless the cause of the freezing is corrected, the system will refreeze next cold winter day. There are many wrong ideas about how to address a frozen septic system:

  • Do NOT add antifreeze, salt or septic additives.
  • Do NOT pump sewage onto the ground surface.
  • Do NOT start a fire over the system
  • Do NOT run water continually to try to unfreeze the system.

To learn what you can do to prevent your septic system from freezing see the University of Minnesota’s Freezing Problems & Septic Systems fact sheet.

Register for the 2019 Metro Area Children’s Water Festival

ATTENTION 4TH GRADE TEACHERS. Registration is open to attend the 2019 Metro Area Children’s Water Festival that will take place on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The Festival will include over 1,400 metropolitan area students (plus home-school students) to learn a most important lesson: WATER CONNECTS EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING ON EARTH.

The purpose of the festival is to raise participants understanding of how water makes everyday life possible. Through understanding the water cycle, and its importance to natural resources, participants learn to appreciate our natural environment and apply conservation measures for sustained water resources. Classes will be selected from the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

The 2019 annual Metro Area Children’s Water Festival is the 22st festival that is held on the last Wednesday of September. Over twenty-eight thousand students have attended previous festivals. Many have children of their own. The sponsors of the Festival intend to develop a metropolitan community that recognizes the importance of clean and sustainable water resources.

4th Grade Standards. This festival is geared to fourth grade students to match the Minnesota Science Standards for water lessons that are part of the education benchmarks.

Parents of homeschool children are encouraged to register for the lottery drawing that is open to all 4th grade level students.

To register for the 2019 Metro Children’s Water Festival please fill out the on-line Registration Form. Classes will be selected through a lottery drawing. The deadline for registration is March 15, 2019. For more information contact Bart Biernat (763-324-4207,

MARCH 15, 2019

Watch the Metro Children’s Water Festival (YouTube; 4:47) to see what happens at the festival

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