County rules affect farmers, residents on river

Published 9:55 am Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Cedar River Watershed District has completed a draft of its rules that will eventually govern the issues of flooding and water quality in the area.

The draft, completed at a workshop Wednesday evening, focuses on issues such as stormwater, drainage, erosion and the other problems that have been a burden in Mower and surrounding counties. However, the rules also delve into regulation of farming practices, runoff and other land uses.

The rules will set guidelines for the CRWD’s own practices in flood control and water quality improvement, too.

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“You need to have rules to get anything done,” said Bev Nordby, CRWD administrator. She added that some of the rules are controversial, but that is to be expected.

CRWD officials did not run into any major disagreements with the draft on Wednesday. However, a few of the rules are still vague, and the proposed draft has several more reviews to go through by higher organizations.

To ensure the new regulations are followed, the CRWD outlined methods for enforcing the rules. Enforcement is expected to be education first, notification second and then enforcement. According to the preliminary draft, a violation will be considered a misdemeanor.

CRWD managers intend to coordinate administration of the district’s rules with all interested federal, state and local government units and agencies that have jurisdiction in the watershed district.

The CRWD board plans to have another workshop in January on the rules after staff members receive comments from local government units.

Until then, CRWD members are seeking input from the public about any issues it may have. On March 16, the CRWD board hopes to have a final public hearing and vote on approval of the rules.

CRWD staff are working on public information materials about the rules that are easy to understand and not overwhelming to citizens, Nordby said.

Copies of the draft rules are available at the Mower County Soil & Water Conservation District office in Austin or online at the CRWD’s website,

All watershed districts in Minnesota are required to have a watershed management plan and rules in place under state law.