In 1977 Minnesota was stricken by drought conditions that nearly rivaled the infamous drought of the 1930s. That prompted the Legislature to seek ways to better manage the state's water supplies, which led to the enactment of the Comprehensive Local Water Management Act in 1985. The Comprehensive Local Water Management Act allows counties to develop and implement comprehensive local water management plans (county water plans).
A pilot project in 1987 provided funding to 52 counties through the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources (now the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources). In 1989, the Legislature passed an ongoing appropriation under the Local Water Resources Protection and Management Program. This program awards base grants through the Natural Resources Block Grant program to each county, based on the tax capacity of a county.
Counties can delegate the plan responsibilities to a local unit of government, regional development commission, or a resource conservation and development committee by resolution Word document (docx). The county may not delegate authority for the exercise of eminent domain, taxation, or assessment to a local unit of government that does not possess those powers. The delegated authority must pass a resolution accepting the delegation.
County water plans:
- cover the entire area within a county;
- address water problems in the context of watershed units and groundwater systems;
- are based upon principles of sound hydrologic management of water, effective environmental protection, and efficient management; and
- are consistent with local water management plans prepared by counties and watershed management organizations wholly or partially within a single watershed unit or groundwater system.