Buffer Program Update
June 22, 2021
Riparian Protection Aid Certification
BWSR is in the process of submitting our annual certification to the Department of Revenue on or before July 1st indicating which counties and watershed districts have affirmed their jurisdiction under the buffer law and the proportion of centerline miles of public watercourses, and miles of public drainage system ditches on the buffer protection map. For the most part, those numbers have not changed. Therefore, aid allocation should be similar to last year. Information on the aid allocation is listed on the Department of Revenue’s of website. Information specific to this year’s allocation should be posted in the coming weeks.
Loss of Attachments: BuffCAT
During a recent BuffCAT update to accommodate enhanced functionality, there was a data loss of the attachments associated with the parcels. BWSR’s Information and Technology (IT) staff contacted ESRI (the vendor that supports ArcGIS Online) to find out what happened to the attachments. They were informed that ESRI does not maintain backups of attachments and that they were not retrievable. Although it is normally common practice for there to be backups of data stored online through cloud services, this turned out to not be the case with attachments associated with ESRI hosted data.
The parcel data and file attachments for BuffCAT are stored in the ArcGIS Online cloud, which are servers that BWSR has no direct access to. The reason for this type of storage is to allow for user editing and tracking of the data. Although backups of the parcel data have been saved by BWSR IT staff over time, backups of the attachments were not saved because BWSR IT staff does not have direct access to the storage of these files.
BWSR IT staff have been committed to fixing the issue and recently developed a process for backing up BuffCAT data along with attachments on our network. So, this should not happen again during future updates to the system.
This was an unfortunate outcome of improving the functionality of the system. For those who may have lost attachments, we apologize for the inconvenience and will do everything we can to prevent it from happening again.
Display and Filter by Watershed District Boundaries (new): BuffCAT
BuffCAT users can now filter by applicable Watershed District and display watershed district boundaries. The new Watershed District layer applies only to Watershed Districts that elected jurisdiction over the buffer law. For assistance with the Watershed District layer, filtering, or anything else BuffCAT related, please contact your Buffer Specialist.
Buffer Tracking Tools: BuffCAT
The compliance tracking field of Compliance in Progress listed in BuffCAT is anticipated to go away sometime this fall. At this point in the program, parcels should be either compliant or not compliant. The Compliance in Progress category was created to help during the initial stages of the program by allowing SWCDs to work with landowners on agreements/plans for compliance to establish a buffer or alternative practice. Those agreements/plans should have been implemented by now.
Statutory deadlines for public waters and public ditches compliance have come and gone. At this point, landowners have had plenty of time to generate a plan and implement it. During the next round of updates, it would be a good idea to shift as many of those remaining parcels listed as Compliance in Progress into the category of yes compliant or no not compliant. Stay tuned for additional information on this change.
Finally, please remember that tracking progress towards compliance is an ongoing process and that all parcels subject to the buffer law must be monitored once every three years per the SWCD’s locally approved monitoring plan. At this time, SWCDs should be wrapping up the initial three-year schedule of monitoring of all parcels. The Monitoring Completed category in BuffCAT was added to help track parcels that have already been reviewed in accordance with local monitoring plans.
We are currently working on two different efforts to utilize returned or unspent buffer implementation funding and buffer cost-share funding. As you may recall, we issued a survey on potential use of these funds in May and are working to bring forward additional options over the next month or two.
Compliance numbers continue to increase monthly. All waters compliance numbers (public waters and public drainage systems combined) are estimated currently at 99.6% statewide compared to 87.2% back in 2017. Overall, this accounts for some 63,244 non-compliant parcels that have been brought into compliance. Below is a link to that shows the transition in compliance by county from January 2017 to March 2021. It’s an incredible shift towards compliance across the state. Currently, 30 counties are deemed fully compliant and other counties are not far behind. This success can be attributed to a lot of hard work at the local level.