Have your say on river’s future
A plan created to manage issues in the Vermillion River watershed is due for an update, and residents will have a chance later this month to raise any issues they think need to be addressed.
The Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization will hold an open house from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 to take input on the plan, which is updated every 10 years. The meeting will take place at the Dakota County Extension and Conservation Center in Farmington.
The plan establishes a set of rules that all communities in the river’s 335-square-mile watershed have to follow. It’s there to make sure heavy stormwater flows in an upstream city don’t overwhelm cities farther down the line, as well as to protect the health of the river.
The health of the Vermillion is a particular concern in the Farmington area because stretches of the river have been identified as habitat for trout. That means making sure water flowing into the river has to be managed so warm stormwater does not heat up the cool trout stream.
“We have to consider the impacts from the potential for increased temperature because that’s one of the critical factors for trout,” said Mark Zabel, administrator of the Vermillion watershed.
One of the ways to make sure that happens is to require new developments to provide ponding facilities so stormwater doesn’t simply wash over asphalt and concrete and run directly into the river. The ponds allow the water to settle and seep gradually into the ground.
Zabel believes the current plan has done a good job of identifying issues that affect the Vermillion watershed. But he’s also prepared to admit that watershed staff might not be aware of all issues.
“We could go forward with a plan very similar to the plan we have, but we are pursuing a very public process,” he said. “We are really looking to engage the public and get their input.
“I’m certainly not going to say we have seen it all.”
Zabel expects the final plan, which also has to be approved by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, to be done and adopted by the end of 2015.
The Extension center is located at 4100 220th St. W. Registration is not required for the Oct. 22 meeting.