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Permit FAQs

Do you have other permit-related questions ? Contact Mat Nicklay at or 952-607-6512 ext 2.

Rules and Regulations

No, the District will work with its municipal partners and state agencies to avoid duplication of efforts.  For example, the District is seeking a general permit from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) so that projects triggering DNR permits and District permits could be permitted by the watershed district.

Our water resources our pressured every day with land and water disturbing activities.  The rules are one way for the District to ensure conservation of water for public uses, control erosion and siltation of lakes, streams and wetlands, and protect water quality in these water bodies. 

If you have questions about what rules might apply to your project, contact Mat Nicklay at or 952-607-6512 ext. 2 or Terry Jeffery at or 952-607-6512 ext. 1.

Projects that impact Minnesota’s water resources are regulated by a variety of state, local, and federal agencies. Check out this useful tool from the MN Department of Natural Resources to help identify other organizations you might need a permit from: Water Related Program Contact.

General FAQs

These are areas where steep slopes (>18%) and flowing water combine to create the potential for substantial soil erosion. Any watercourse within a high-risk erosion area must have a buffer with an average width of 50 feet, minimum 30 feet. View or download the High Risk Erosion Maps.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintains Flood Rate Insurance Maps (FIRM) that designate flood zones. This is a good baseline for review of your property for floodplain although, in many cases, it will not indicate an elevation. The RPBCWD has completed flood risk mapping throughout the district and includes elevations. This does not have a public facing interface but, if you contact the district, we can tell you if there is floodplain and to what elevation. It is also important to note that the district looks at floodplain for all waterbodies, not just lakes and streams.

Stormwater BMPs are any feature designed to slow, store, or infiltrate stormwater runoff and remove sediment and excess nutrients from stormwater before it leaves the site and enters public waters. BMPs can be as simple as a grassed swale or raingarden or more complex, such as underground vaults or irrigation systems.

Regardless of the method used to stabilize your shoreline, a permit will always be required from the RPBCWD. If you have existing riprap that was placed with an RPBCWD permit or existing riprap that was placed prior to the shoreline stabilization rule going into effect in 2015, you will be able to repair the existing riprap provided it meets the criteria set forth in section 3 of rule F. For shorelines which do not have existing riprap, you will need to demonstrate that the erosive forces acting upon the shore warrant the need for riprap. This can be done using the RPBCWD erosion intensity worksheet.

No structure or hard surface can be built or added within a buffer area.

Buffers must be maintained in a natural state. Burning or cutting to promote the health of the buffer or address disease or invasive species is permitted when approved in writing by the District or in accordance with a written maintenance plan approved by the district. No other activities, such as mowing, cultivating, fertilizing, mulching, or dumping of yard waste are allowed within the buffer.


Any project that results in the placement, alteration, or removal of 50 cubic yards or more of earth; or the alteration or removal of 5,000 square feet or more of land-surface area will require a permit. At a minimum, this will trigger Rule C – Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control. Additional rules may be triggered if the work is taking place in a floodplain or within 500-feet of any water body.

Under state law, RPBCWD has 15 business days to determine if a submittal is complete. After a complete submittal is provided, the RPBCWD has 60 days to make a decision. The amount of time needed will vary depending upon the complexity of the project, the number of rules triggered, the level of detail provided in the first submittal and whether the permit can be administratively approved or must go before the board of managers for approval.

Single family homes or projects which only trigger erosion control, can often be turned around in as little as two weeks but may take a month. More complex projects, which must be presented to the board of managers, will almost certainly take a minimum of 45-days. If there are multiple revisions needed to demonstrate compliance with the rules, it may take three months or longer.

For this reason, applicants are strongly encouraged to submit well before the planned construction date to ensure review time and, if necessary, revisions of plans. We also encourage contacting our regulatory staff before submitting your application with any questions or requesting a non-binding informal review of application materials.

When a permit is conditionally approved it means that the permit application is substantially complete and that no further revisions are needed, but some items need to be taken care of before the permit is executed. This is usually details such as contact info for contractors, providing the financial assurance, and recordation of maintenance agreements with the appropriate county land records department. These conditions will be clearly communicated to you when your permit receives conditional approval. As soon as these conditions are met the permit will be executed.

If you do work which requires a permit without first having received one, you will need to apply for an after-the-fact permit. You will need to demonstrate that the work performed conforms to RPBCWD rules. If it does not, you will need to modify the work to bring it into compliance.

Financial assurance (FA) is required for all permitted projects in the district and is held as a guarantee that that all the conditions of a permit are met, and that a project and any associated BMPs are built in accordance with plans approved by the district when the permit is executed. The financial assurance is calculated based upon specific details of the project and can be in the form of cash escrow, letter of credit, or performance bond. The FA is returned after the applicant demonstrates that the project is complete and is consistent with the approved plans and specifications.

The permit fee deposit is a standard sum, of which $10 is a non-refundable administrative fee. Costs incurred by the district, such as staff time or consulting fees, are recovered from the permit fee deposit. Any balance remaining at permit close out is returned.

Yes, while there may be some overlap, the city and watershed district are separate and distinct government entities, with different management mandates and goals.

Work that goes above and beyond permit requirements or the cost difference of a BMP upgrade is eligible for grant funds. You can also receive grant funds for ancillary work, performed under the same project, that is not subject to district rules.

Above and Beyond

If you install a clean water best management practice that goes above and beyond the permit requirements, you can apply for a cost-share grant.

Learn more