Watershed districts can amend and extend their current water plan. This page contains guidance and templates to help you with the process. The guidance is based on BWSR’s Local Water Plan Extension and Amendment Policy (December 2019). The primary goals of this policy are to: 1) facilitate the transition to One Watershed, One Plan by ensuring active participation by counties, soil and water conservation districts, and watershed districts in plan development; 2) allow for effective participation and use of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS); and 3) maintain eligibility of participating local government units in applying for and receiving grants under the BWSR’s current and future grants policies. Counties and watershed districts can consider pursuing plan amendments, waivers and/or extensions in order to maintain an approved water plan.
Amendments alter a plan by modification, deletion, or addition using the process described in statute. Extensions lengthen the plan end date. Each option is described in detail below.
Common reasons a watershed district (WD) may initiate an amendment are because new information or issues arise that need to be incorporated into the plan, or a BWSR order approving the original plan requires an update of the goals, objectives and action items, often called a five year amendment or five year focus plan. When the amendment is being pursued to address requirements in the BWSR order approving the original plan, the amendment will include an update of the action items, and the goals and objectives if necessary. The amendment will also include a revision to the executive summary, as appropriate. An amendment to the implementation section of the plan may also be required by BWSR, in conjunction with a request for an extension of the plan.
The amendment process consists of required and recommended steps for amending water plans. The required steps are indicated with an asterisk (*).
Step 1. Consult
WD consults with the BWSR Board Conservationist to review the water plan amendment process. Determine the extent of the amendment and review process and the correlated level of effort needed. Extensive amendments typically take 18 months to complete. Set a due date for amendment completion and work backward to develop an internal timeline.
Discuss the participants who will be involved with the amendment review and the level of involvement, which depends on the nature of the amendment. Suggested participants are counties affected by the proposed amendment, the commissioner, the director, the manager/administrator and council president of each municipality affected by the watershed district, and the soil and water conservation districts affected by the watershed district, and federal government agencies. WD’s are required to have an advisory committee; this committee could also provide input into the amendment content.
Stakeholders are not required to be notified or consulted regarding the amendment until Step 4. However, it may be beneficial for the County/WD to obtain feedback from stakeholders throughout the process in order to avoid issues arising in the review process. Example scenario: If the amendment will include new information from a recently completed WRAPS process, and most or all of the stakeholders were involved in that process, then it makes sense to wait to consult with the stakeholders until Step 4.
Step 2. Self-Assessment and Develop Proposed Amendment*
WD performs self-assessment to evaluate progress on current plan. This should include a review of Performance Review and Assistance Program (PRAP) reports and other related information.
WD reviews current plan sections and develops a list of sections to amend, noting areas where information is missing, or out of date. Review state reports/plans for your area, such as Groundwater Restoration and Protection Strategies (GRAPS) and Watershed Restoration and Protections Strategies (pdf) (WRAPS), for possible inclusion into the plan.
WD develops proposed amendment with or without stakeholder input as determined in Step 1. When submitting copies of the proposed amendment, the copies should show deleted text as stricken and new text as underlined; or the submittal should be clearly replacement pages (e.g. a new Executive Summary to replace the previous Executive Summary). Unless the entire document is reprinted, all approved amendments should be printed in the form of replacement pages for the plan with each page renumbered as appropriate including the effective date of the amendment. Proposed amendments may be submitted electronically. Final BWSR-approved amendments posted to websites should be clean copies (track changes accepted). The proposed amendment must accompany the petition to amend the plan sent to the BWSR.
Step 3. Submit Petition*
WD submits a petition to the BWSR. The petition to amend the water plan can be in the form of a letter or memo to the BWSR Board Conservationist. The petition may be submitted electronically. The petition should contain:background on the water plan; the purpose(s) for the amendment; and a general summary of the amendment (areas of the plan that will be amended, scope of the amendment if known).The petition should include the following attachments: a copy of the signed resolution passed by the County/WD board indicating the intent to amend the water plan.
Step 4. Notify*
BWSR provides notice by publication in a legal newspaper published in counties affected by the watershed district and by mail to the auditors of counties and to the chief executive officials of municipalities affected by the watershed district.
Step 5. Public Hearing*
BWSR conducts a public hearing on the proposed amendment. The public hearing meeting must be legally noticed at least ten days before the date of the hearing.
Step 6. Reconvene Task Force
WD may reconvene the Water Plan Task Force/Advisory Committee as needed to consider and address comments.
Step 7. Revise Amendment
WD revises proposed amendment after formal review and Water Plan Task Force meeting(s) and prepares for final submission to BWSR.
Step 8. Submit Amendment*
WD submits final proposed amendment to BWSR to complete final formal review, including a summary of the changes incorporated as a result of the review process to the BWSR Board Conservationist. The BWSR Board Conservationist will submit the final proposed amendment to:
BWSR Board Conservationist consults with the BWSR Regional Manager, other BWSR staff and board members and provides feedback to the WD regarding the petition and proposed amendment. The BWSR regional committee for recommendation, and to the BWSR Board for a decision via a board order. Processed within 90 days (traditional amendment approval process); or The Regional Manager with final approval from the Executive Director via a Board Order. Processed within 60 days (non-traditional amendment approval process), see Local Water Plan Extension and Amendment Policy (December 2019).
Step 9. Notice of Action*
BWSR sends WD official notice of BWSR Board action on the final amendment. BWSR sends the order and the approved amendment to the entities that received the amendment and notice of the public hearing.
Step 10. County/WD Pass Resolution to Adopt
WD board passes a resolution acknowledging the approved amendment after receiving notice and provides a copy to the Board Conservationist within 120 days of BWSR approval.
Extensions may be requested for participation in and use of information from a WRAPS and/or One Watershed, One Plan process. All requests for extensions to a water plan must be initiated by petition to BWSR. The extensions may be granted as requested, or BWSR may condition the extension approval with a requirement for a subsequent amendment to address new data and information that may substantially change implementation of the water plan. The petition may be submitted electronically. The steps to request an extension are below.WD consults with the BWSR Board Conservationist regarding the proposed extension. WD submits a petition to the BWSR Board Conservationist communicating their request for an extension to their water plan. The petition to extend the water plan may be in the form of a letter or memo to the BWSR Board Conservationist. The petition should contain: background on the water plan, the purpose(s) for the extension petition, and a copy of the signed resolution attached to the extension petition.
BWSR Board Conservationist consults with the BWSR Regional Manager, other BWSR staff and board members. BWSR Board Conservationist will submit the extension petition to:
The BWSR regional committee for recommendation, and to the BWSR Board for a decision via a Board Order. Processed within 90 days (traditional amendment approval process); or The Regional Manager with final approval from the Executive Director via a Board Order. Processed within 60 days (non-traditional amendment approval process), see Local Water Plan Extension and Amendment Policy (December 2019).
BWSR sends WD official notice of BWSR Board decision on the extension petition.