The Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District
The Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District (PLSLWD) was established on March 4, 1970 by order of the Minnesota Water Resources Board (MWRB) under the authority of the Minnesota Watershed Act (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 112). The order was in response to a petition filed by resident landowners within the watershed on June 24, 1969. This citizen petition sought establishment of the District for the purposes of wisely managing and conserving the waters and natural resources of the watershed.
The PLSLWD is approximately 42 square miles in size and is located in north central Scott County, Minnesota, encompassing parts of the cities of Prior Lake, Shakopee, and Savage and parts of Sand Creek and Spring Lake Townships. In addition, a portion of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community tribal lands are located within the District.
The PLSLWD is administered by a five-person Board of Managers (Board) appointed by the Scott County Commissioners. All of the District’s policies, goals, and accomplishments are directed by the citizens who serve on the Board. The Board of Managers meets the second Tuesday of the month at 6:00 PM at the Prior Lake City Hall. Manager duties include: adopting and implementing the Water Resources Management Plan and rules and regulations; establishing an annual budget; preparing an annual report and audits; establishing a citizens advisory committee; initiating projects and maintaining and operating existing projects.
Watershed districts are funded through an ad valorem tax.
Water Resources Management Plan
The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) approved the District’s third generation Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) on June 23, 2010 and the District Board adopted the plan at its July 13, 2010 meeting. A copy of the WRMP is available electronically on the District website.
The Plan details the goals and policies of the Watershed District and provides the foundation for its activities and projects. It identifies problems and short-term strategies and goals.
In 2013, a major update to the WRMP was approved by BWSR in August and adopted by the District Board in September (Resolution 13-272). The three major categories to the amendment included:
- Goal Revisions
- Reorganized Policies and Projects
- Additional and Revised Implementation Projects
Previously the District had 13 goals. This lead to some confusion about what the top priorities of the District were as it related to Board actions. This plan update narrows the goals to just 5, which will make it easier for the Board and staff to focus on the priorities of the organization. The revised goals can be found in Section 2.3, and are as follows:
- To minimize the negative effects of water level fluctuations in the District.
- To maintain or improve the quality of all water resources within the District.
- To maintain and expand the recreational, aesthetic, and wildlife habitat benefits associated with surface water and natural spaces in the District.
- To improve understanding of local water resources and practices among all stakeholders in the District.
- To be as efficient and effective as possible in all District activities.
It is important to note that planned expenditures are not the same as budgeted expenditures; the District is not bound to spending precisely what is included in the plan. Rather, these are projections of the upper limit of what the District would spend in a given year. Project funding could be reduced or removed based on the outcomes of feasibility studies. Alternatively, new projects could be added or funding increased, but that would require another plan amendment. Finally, planned expenditures are not the same as the annual tax levy. Other sources of funding, such as cash reserves, grants, or participation from other project partners, could significantly reduce the levy amounts from the budgeted expenditure (which itself could differ from the planned expenditure).
In order to leverage public resources, PLSLWD works in partnership with other organizations, such as its member cities and townships of Prior Lake, Shakopee and Savage and Spring Lake and Sand Creek Townships; the Scott County Soil and Water Conservation District; the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community; Scott Water Management Organization (WMO); Three Rivers Park District and Lower Minnesota River Watershed District.
Prior Lake Outlet Channel
Lake associations initially petitioned the PLSLWD to construct an outlet to carry stormwater from its landlocked lakes in 1973. This lead to the development of the Prior Lake Outlet System, which receives water from Prior Lake and the surrounding watershed and transports it to the Minnesota River. More information about the history and management of this system can be found on the Outlet Channel page of our website.