Many opportunities to serve your community and protect natural resources

ANOKA COUNTY Citizen Advisory Boards and Commissions support County government by involving citizens in the decision-making process, meeting requirements of state law, helping to define community norms and standards, providing technical expertise, serving as advocates, offering feedback, and reflecting the diverse interests of County clients and residents. The Anoka County Board of Commissioners appoints members to these Citizen Advisory Boards and Commissions such as the Coon Creek Watershed District and the Rice Creek Watershed District. Current open positions:

The CITY OF ANOKA is accepting applications for the openings (announcement): Parks & Recreation Board, Charter Commission, Economic Development Commission, Heritage Preservation Commission, Human Rights Commission, and Utility Advisory Board. For more information, please contact the Administration Department at 763-576-2740 or via email at:

The CITY OF ANDOVER maintains six (6) Commissions & Boards to advise the Council. The City is seeking individuals to serve 3-year terms on the Park & Recreation Commission. For more information, contact Todd Haas, Assistant Public Works Director at (763) 767-5131. Also, the City is seeking individuals to serve 3-year terms on the Open Space Advisory Commission concerning preservation of open space. For more information, please contact Dave Carlberg, Community Development Director at (763)767-5140. Commission members are compensated.

The CITY OF BLAINE seeks to fill Board & Commission vacancies for 2018: Park Advisory Board (recommends policy pertaining to the park and recreation function), Planning Commission (advises on long-range community planning goals and policies), Natural Resources Conservation Board (advises on the acquisition and management of public open space, trails, natural resources), Special Board of Review (provides a fair and objective forum for property owners to appeal their property valuation or classification). For more information contact Stacy Dellich, Deputy City Clerk (Email, Phone: 763-785-6122).

The CITY OF CIRCLE PINES maintains three (3) Commissions or Boards: Utilities Commission, Park Board, and Planning Commission. Volunteers play an important role in providing democratic government for Circle Pines. Serving on a commission or board is an excellent way to share citizen input and put individuals’ talents to use.

The CITY OF COLUMBUS is accepting applications for residents to serve on the Park Advisory Board and the Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization Board. The Park Advisory Board discusses park acquisition and development. The SRWMO is a multi-city board that collaborates in the management of local water resources. If you have questions about this opportunity, please call the City Offices at 651-464-3120 for more information.

In the CITY OF COON RAPIDS, citizen participation on Boards and Commissions is vital to the progress of the City. The City Council appoints citizens who serve voluntarily on advisory boards and commissions in the City including: Sustainability (research ideas for sustainable living), Parks and Recreation (maintain comprehensive park plan), Arts (promote and present cultural activities), Historical (monitor matters of historical significance), Planning (review issues involving zoning, the Comprehensive Plan and land use), Safety (review public safety issues). If you are interested in becoming a member of an advisory board, please fill out the Commission Application (PDF).

The CITY OF EAST BETHEL has several Authorities, Boards, and Commissions. Limited-term committees are also sometimes formed to address specific issues. The authorities, boards, and commissions provide a way for the city to benefit from the expertise and experience of those who live and work in the city, as well as providing a way for residents to meet new people, learn new things, develop leadership skills, be of service, and make a difference. If you are interested in serving as a member please contact us at 763-367-7840.

The CITY OF FRIDLEY has six Commissions. These community volunteers help advise the City Council on important aspects of the city. The City Council seeks residents interested in serving on City commissions as vacancies arise: Charter Commission, Planning Commission, Appeals Commission, Environmental Quality and Energy Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, and Housing and Redevelopment Authority. For information on current vacancies, see the Commission Vacancies webpage. For further information about current openings, the duties and responsibilities, meeting dates and times of the commissions, fill out a Commission Application or contact Roberta in the City Manager’s Office at (763) 572-3500.

The CITY OF HAM LAKE has three (3) Commissions that monitor their community and advise the City Council on important issues in Ham Lake: Planning Commission (makes recommendations to the City Council regarding growth and development in the City), Park and Tree Commission (makes recommendations regarding the use, maintenance and development of all city parks, and supervises the oak wilt control plan), Charter Commission (the City Charter, approved by voters and issued by the State of Minnesota in 1982, allows the City, in some instances, broader powers including the right to initiative and referendum).

The LINO LAKES City Council is assisted in its decision-making process by several advisory boards and committees: Economic Development Advisory Committee, Environmental Board, Park Board, and Planning & Zoning Board. Vacancies on advisory boards and committees can be found under the jobs & volunteering webpage. Generally, openings occur when terms expire, on December 31 of each year, unless a member must resign before his/her term has expired.

The CITY OF NOWTHEN has three (3) Committees or Commissions (Parks and Recreation Committee, Planning and Zoning Commission, and Upper Rum River Watershed Management Organization) that participate in the planning and implementation of City programs, services and management of local water resources. For more information contact the City Offices at 763-441-1347 or contact the City Council directly.

The CITY OF RAMSEY maintains 5 Commissions and Boards to make specific recommendations to the City Council. Ramsey is accepting applications for its advisory commissions that include the Environmental Policy Board, Parks and Recreation Commission, Economic Development Authority, and the Planning Commission. Applications are being accepted for all commissions and will be kept on file for one year in the event of an unexpected vacancy. Online applications and additional information are available on the City’s Boards and Commissions webpage or call Human Resources at 763-433- 9867.

The CITY OF SAINT FRANCIS has four (4) Commissions or Boards that monitor their community and advise the City Council on important issues: Planning and Zoning CommissionEconomic Development Authority (established in 2011 to encourage, attract, promote and develop economically sound industry and commerce within the City) – Charter CommissionUpper Rum River Watershed Management Organization.

Columbus residents: apply for the Sunrise River WMO Board to protect local water resources

The City of Columbus is accepting applications for two (2) residents to fill vacancies on the Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization (SRWMO) Board (announcement) . If you or someone you know is interested in this opportunity, please visit the City of Columbus Jobs & Volunteering web page to print out an application and submit to the Columbus City Clerk.

The Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization (SRWMO) is a joint powers special purpose unit of government composed of member cities collaborating to manage water resources. This arrangement is based upon the recognition that water-related issues and management rarely stop at municipal boundaries. The SRWMO’s boundaries are defined by the West Branch of the Sunrise River’s watershed to the West and South Branch of the Sunrise’s watershed to the south. To the north and east the boundaries are defined by the Anoka County border.

The SRWMO is involved in many aspects of water management including planning and regulation, water quality, flooding, shoreland management, recreation, wildlife, and erosion control. The WMO has a state-approved watershed management plan which outlines their policies and plan of work. Cities’ and townships’ local water management plans must be consistent with the WMO’s plan. The SRWMO Board does not have employees. Instead, it works through cooperative efforts of the member cities and townships, or contracts with the Anoka Conservation District or other consultants.

January is Radon Action Month

Governor Dayton has proclaimed January 2017 as Radon Action Month to emphasize that every home should be tested for radon as 2 in 5 homes still have dangerous levels (see Unity Hospital Hosts Community Forum on Radon, YouTube video, CTN Studios; 2:07). Fortunately, the risk is largely preventable, by testing homes and fixing radon problems.

Radon is the leading environmental cause of cancer deaths in the United States and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. More than 21,000 lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon each year in the U.S.

The number of homes fixed (mitigated) has doubled over previous years due, in part, to a new state law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2014. The law requires information to be provided to buyers about radon during a home sale. During the first nine months of 2014, at least 2,389 homes had work done to reduce radon levels; the average for the previous two years was 1,279.

The Minnesota Radon Awareness Act requires sellers to inform buyers whether their home has been tested for radon and if so, what the levels are and whether the home has been mitigated for radon (see Radon in Real Estate Transactions). In addition, sellers must provide a warning statement and a two-page publication to the buyer.

Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in Minnesota soils. It can enter into all kinds of homes through cracks or openings in walls or foundations. The only way for residents to know if their home has radon is to test.

Anoka County Community Development provides radon test kits for homeowners. For more information go to the Radon Information webpage or call Community Development at 763-324-4650.

Order Trees and Shrubs Now for Spring Planting

The Anoka Conservation District is accepting preorders for the annual Tree and Shrub Sale.  The District offers a wide variety of native stock, including black cherry trees, mixed oak trees, red maple trees, and white pine trees. The trees and shrubs are sold in bare root seedlings or transplants and most are 10″ to 24″ in height. They may be purchased in bundles of ten for $17, or twenty-five for $30 not including tax.  Native prairie seed and tree aids are also available. You do not need to be an Anoka County resident to order.

The Anoka Conservation District is now accepting preorders for the annual tree and shrub sale.

The Anoka Conservation District is now accepting preorders for the annual tree and shrub sale.

The Tree and Shrub Sale website also contains information about the kinds of trees and shrubs to plant in your particular situation along with planting directions.

You may purchase these trees and shrubs by:

  1. Online ordering,
  2. Mail in an Order Form, or
  3. Order by phone (763-434-2030 x10).

Nominate a natural resources hero for the 2018 Public Health Award

Our health depends on the quality of the water in our community. Clean water that is safe to drink. Beaches and lakes that have water free of pollution and microbes. And fish that are safe to eat.  You can’t separate people and their health from their environment. And those that help protect and manage our natural resources are not only heroes preserving land, wildlife and water in our communities; they are preserving the natural processes that maintain healthy environments and clean water.

Consider nominating an Anoka County resident or organization for an Anoka County 2018 Public Health Award. Nominations must be submitted to Anoka County Community Health and Environmental Services by January 31, 2018. Awards will be announced during Public Health Month (April, 2018).

Apply now for a summer MnTAP intern to improve your business and environment

Businesses struggling to lower their costs reducing waste while improving water and energy efficiency now have the opportunity to partner with the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) to sponsor a 2018 college intern. An intern can make suggestions that improve efficiency, save money, reduce waste, or decrease regulatory compliance burden. Instead of hiring new technical staff – MnTAP provides an intern that has the time and creativity to research alternative equipment, procedures, chemicals, and raw materials.

In 2017, MnTAP Interns identified process improvement opportunities that can save $1.6 million annually for host businesses.

MnTAP will have projects in industrial water efficiency, process optimization in food processing including chemical use, energy and water efficiency, as well as tailored assistance to large and small businesses throughout the state.  Projects are financially supported through a variety of partnerships including counties, utilities and industry associations to name a few. Contact MnTAP to find out how you can help bring MnTAP Interns to the businesses you serve.

Your company is still paying twice for water; once for the water provided to your facility and once for the amount of water you are discharging to the local wastewater treatment facility. Water conservation measures can reduce the amount of water you use as well as your water costs

Here are three projects from 2017:
  • Plastech, Rush City, MN Goal: Reduce process energy use in plastics molding operation with funding from MPCA and East Central Energy.
  • Diasorin, Stillwater, MN Goal: Optimize water use in medical diagnostic devices manufacturing with funding from Washington County.
  • Kerry Ingredients, Rochester, MN Goal: Improve energy and chemical use efficiency with funding from MPCA, U.S. EPA and Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation.
For more information on the intern program visit  If you would like to discuss a potential intern project, contact Nathan Landwehr, MnTAP’s Intern Program Administrator, at 612-624-4697 or 

Water quality buffer protection of lakes, rivers, streams and ditches

In June of 2015, Governor Dayton signed into law the buffer initiative aimed at enhancing the protection of Minnesota’s waters. The Buffer Law requires that perennial vegetation buffers (16.5 to 50 feet) be maintained along lakes, rivers, streams and ditches to help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment that could pollute water resources. The law provides flexibility and financial support for landowners to install and maintain buffers.

Landowners likely have many questions about how this new law will impact their property. The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources oversees the process and is providing information to landowners:

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has completed its Buffer Mapping Project that determines what waters are subject to the new law. There are less than 200 properties across Anoka County that lack the buffer required by the Buffer Law.

DNR Surface Water Buffer Map (Anoka Co.)

Anoka County Portion of the Buffer Map (MN Dept. of Natural Resources)

Landowners are encouraged to establish buffers with the advice of the Anoka Conservation District or their local building official.

The Buffer Law specifies November 2017 as the deadline for establishment of 50-foot wide buffers on public waters (e.g. lakes, rivers and streams) and November 2018 for 16.5-foot wide buffers on public drainage systems (e.g. County ditches).

Anoka County Water Quality Buffers. The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) has surveyed public waters inventorying adjacent land to determine the properties that may lack sufficient buffer (perennial vegetation). ACD will contact property owners and provide technical assistance to help them comply with the Buffer Law. For more information contact Jared Wagner at 763-434-2030 x18 (

Drinking water safety of public and private (home wells) supplies

Several articles recently appeared in Twin Cities newspapers, television and websites regarding the safety of drinking water. Reports of waste disposal polluting groundwater and well water has called attention to the safety of drinking water in the metropolitan area (What did 3M know about PFCs, StarTribune, 11/26/2017; 3M Pollution raised cancer rates, Pioneer Press, 11/20/2017; and Drinking water blamed in hundreds of illnesses, CNN, 11/9/2017) .

In 2015, the Anoka County Community Health Board determined that water quality and sustainable drinking water are a most important community health issue. By this determination, the Community Health and Environmental Health Department has expanded efforts to protect the source of drinking water to its communities and residents.

Public water supplies. The Minnesota Department of Health and Anoka County Environmental Services assist public water suppliers in monitoring the safety of their drinking water quality through regularly testing and maintenance of their system. Community water systems provide annual testing results to users.

Source Water Protection. Water pollution near public water supply wells have a greater potential of contaminating the drinking water supply of an entire community. Public water suppliers in Anoka County have determined that the best way to protect their residents’ drinking water supply is a joint wellhead protection program (Anoka County Municipal Wellhead Protection Group) with neighboring communities. By working together, communities are reaching their mutual goal (safe drinking water supply) with greater success.

What is a wellhead protection area? A wellhead protection area is a protection zone around a public well to keep pollutants from rapidly reaching the community’s water supply.  The area is established using easily identifiable landmarks as boundaries (e.g. streets, property lines, ditches).  The wellhead protection area is based on the minimum time (ten years) for a pollutant to reach the well.

Who’s Impacted? A wellhead protection area includes hundreds to thousands of properties. Residents and businesses within a wellhead protection area are asked to cooperate with their water supplier to effectively protect our water supply without establishing additional ordinances or regulatory programs. The Municipal Wellhead Protection Group has developed an on-line map to show properties located in wellhead protection areas (also called Drinking Water Supply Management Areas) and the vulnerability to pollution.

Private well supplies. Since 1974, private wells are required to be constructed according to the Minnesota Well Code. When a well contractor (driller) constructs a well the driller must test the quality of the water. Future water testing and maintenance of a private (home/cabin) wells is the responsibility of the homeowner. Anoka County Environmental Services provides well water testing service to residents. Residents are encouraged to perform an annual sanitary analysis (total coliform bacteria and nitrate-nitrogen).

A word about arsenic. Private well water tests have also found arsenic above the safe drinking water standard (10 micrograms per liter) in approximately 8% of Anoka County wells. Since 2012, new wells are tested for arsenic concentration. Well constructed before 2012 (or well owners that do not have a certified water test) are encouraged to test their well. By learning if unsafe levels of arsenic is in drinking water, families can take action to protect themselves.

For more information about testing your private well contact Bart Biernat 763-324-4207, Bart.Biernat @

Peltier Lake drawdown project to control curlyleaf pondweed

The Rice Creek Watershed District (RCWD) is conducting a temporary water level drawdown on Peltier Lake. The drawdown will continue through the winter of 2017/18. Water levels will recede slowly during the drawdown – approximtaly 1 inch per day. At its lowest, water levels will be approximately 3 feet below normal. Water levels will return to normal after ice-out in the spring of 2018.

The project is intended to reduce invasive curlyleaf pondweed and improve water clarity. Peltier Lake remains open for fishing during the drawdown. Anoka County Parks will continue to operate an aerator on the west side of the lake during winter months to protect the fishery from winterkill. Winter lake travelers should heed warning signs, and not approach the aerators – thin ice is likely in this area.

For more information contact the Rice Creek Watershed District at 763-398-3070.

Rice Creek Watershed District - Curley Leaf Pondweed control project.

Rice Creek Watershed District – Curley Leaf Pondweed control project.

Business plays an important role in preventing pollution

Since 1985, businesses have participated in the Anoka County Hazardous Waste Management Program that prevents air, soils and water pollution. The Environmental Health Services section holds annual workshops with businesses to learn the challenges they face and answer questions about the Hazardous Waste Management Ordinance.

At the November 1, 2017 Large Quantity Generator workshop, participants learned how to “operate to prevent a release.” The workshop emphasis is not only to maintain a system that manages hazardous waste labeling, recording and reporting but to operate in a manner that prevents a release. After all, that’s what managing hazardous waste is about, preventing pollution, said Laura Schmidt (Anoka County Environmental Health Specialist).

RECYCLING. Not only did Participants learned how to manage their hazardous wastes but their solid waste too through the Commercial Recycling Business Assistance Program. Anoka County Recycling and Resource Solutions helps businesses reduce, reuse and recycle through services such as free on-site technical assistance.

WATER RESOURCES. Increasing focus on our water resources was discussed at the Workshop. Recently, the Anoka County Community Health Board determined that Water Quality and Sustainable Drinking Water is a most important community health issue.  We share the responsibility to manage and protect those water resources that we share, said Bart Biernat (Anoka County Environmental Health Specialist). Concern over the management and protection of water resources is growing to include Governor Dayton’s 25BY25 initiative, the North & East Metro Groundwater Management Area designation, falling levels in White Bear Lake leading to a lawsuit and appeal, the recently completed Anoka County Geologic Atlas and Metropolitan Groundwater Model indicating groundwater sensitive to pollution and reduced aquifers and water supply in rural areas of the county.

FACILITATE AND COLLABORATE. There are many opportunities for individuals and businesses to facilitate, collaborate and cooperate in managing and protecting our natural resources. The Workshop participants can also support and facilitate the management of local resources by encouraging customers and employees to use services such as the Anoka County Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Facility to keep residential hazardous waste being mixed with solid waste. And Organics Composting that further reduces solid waste volumes. Businesses are encouraged to participate in the annual Green Expo that continues to grow each year.

Businesses can facilitate developing the next phase of water efficiency and waste reduction by collaborating with the MnTAP program to sponsor a University of Minnesota student intern project at their facility to improve efficiency, save money, reduce waste and decrease regulatory burdens.

Many Anoka County businesses make sustainable green environmental initiatives a part of their business. Some examples (not an inclusive list) are:


  • Business hazardous waste contact Environmental Health Services – Laura Schmidt (763-324-4208 or email
  • Household hazardous waste contact Anoka County Recycling and Resources Solutions (763-324-3400 or on-line contact)
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