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Local Government Units and Partner Agencies

Overview of water management duties, related statutes, guidance documents, directories, and more info for LGUs:

Guidance Documents

Comprehensive Local Water Management Planning

Wetland Conservation Act

Local Contacts
Local Water Planners Directory PDF file - requires Adobe Reader
Chapter 103B (301-3355) and 103B.255
County Water Plan Interactive MapMap Icon
Association of Minnesota Counties

Overview of Duties

County Comprehensive Local Water Management is the adoption and implementation of local water management plans that are based on local priorities. As a general-purpose unit of government, counties, with their planning and land-use authorities, are uniquely positioned to link many land-use decisions with local goals for surface and groundwater protection and management. Some counties have delegated water planning duties to the local SWCD.

BWSR has oversight responsibilities to ensure that local water plans are prepared and coordinated with existing local, and state efforts and that plans are implemented effectively. All parts of Minnesota have state-approved and locally adopted plans in place. These local plans focus on priority concerns, defined goals and objectives, and measurable outcomes. BWSR provides grants to assist counties in carrying out priority projects and programs in their plans, BWSR provides financial assistance to them through the Natural Resources Block Grant. Additional funding is available to counties, watershed districts, and watershed management organizations in the form of challenge grants, provided through the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

County Commissioners also are responsible for appointing Watershed District Managers (see Watershed District Manager Appointments fact sheet)


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 (Minnesota Statutes sections 103B.301 to 103B.355) in 1985. The act encourages counties outside of the metropolitan area to develop and implement comprehensive water management plans. While the plans are voluntary, various state and federal grants require recipients to have an adopted local water management plan that is updated periodically (between 5 and 10 years).


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 (Minnesota Statutes 103B.3669). This program awards base grants through the Natural Resources Block Grant program to each county, based on the tax capacity of a county. The Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources has also provided funding for Local Water Management Challenge Grants, which are competitive grants to counties to implement high-priority activities that are identified in local water management plans.

BWSR roles

The BWSR Board reviews and approves local water plans. BWSR staff members provide overall program guidance, process affiliated grants, and provide plan review and comments.


The success of local water management can largely be attributed to the process used to develop and implement plans: Local citizens identify water and related resource management needs and map out a course of action to address those needs.

Key concepts of local water management programs:

Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155 | (651) 296-3767 | Fax (651) 297-5615 | TTY (800) 627-3529

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