Surface Water

Lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands are among the most important natural resources for Minnesotans. EveryWater Cycle resident can protect the quality of these resources from pollution for future generations.

When rain falls and snow melts on hard surfaces like paved streets, driveways, parking lots and rooftops it picks up and carries materials that can pollute our water. The rain and snow melt can carry dirt, oil, grease, fertilizer, trash, and pet waste. These pollutants and more travel through the city storm sewer and discharge directly into ponds, streams and wetlands in our community. Eventually all the surface water in Farmington makes its way to the Vermillion River, a trophy trout stream. Polluted rain and snow melt can severely reduce the quality of water we fish from, swim in and drink.

The City of Farmington is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the city’s stormwater system. The stormwater system includes ditches, stormwater ponds, wetlands, creeks and rivers.

The city is regulated by several agencies including the MN Pollution Control Agency, MN Department of Natural Resources, the Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Metropolitan Council and the Vermillion River Watershed District.

Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program

A 1987 amendment to the Federal Clean Water Act required implementation of a regulatory program to address storm water runoff and its associated pollutants. 

Farmington is required to follow National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requirements for cities with a population over 10,000 persons. At a state level, the program oversight is by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).  

The MPCA develops the statewide permitting minimum requirements and each regulated entity must develop and submit a program every five years detailing how the requirements will be met. The permit is designed to prevent items considered pollutants from being washed by stormwater runoff into the municipal storm sewer and then discharged from the storm sewer into local waterbodies.

The MPCA reissued the NPDES Phase II permit in August 2013, requiring municipalities to submit a revised application and Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program (SWPPP) document. The approved permit is available here and at City Hall, Engineering Department office (430 Third St.).

The program needs to address six minimum control measures that are outlined in the permit requirements. For all minimum control measures, the city was required to create best management practices to fulfill the permit requirements.
  • Public Education and Outreach - The city distributes educational materials and performs outreach to inform citizens about the impacts of polluted storm water runoff and its affect on water resources.

  • Public Participation/Involvement - The city will provide opportunities for citizens to participate in program development and implementation.

  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination - The city has developed and will implement a plan to detect and eliminate illicit discharges to the storm sewer system.

  • Construction Site Runoff Control - The development, implementation and enforcement of an erosion and sediment control program for construction activities that disturb one or more acres of land.

  • Post Construction Runoff Control - The city will develop, implement and enforce a program to address discharges of post-construction storm water runoff from new development and redevelopment areas. 

  • Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping - The development and implementation of a program with the goal of preventing or reducing pollutant runoff from city municipal operations.
If you would like to provide comment on the city's SWPPP, please email Engineering@FarmingtonMN.gov. All comments must be received by June 25, 2021. 

Local Surface Water Management Plan

This Local Surface Water Management Plan will serve as a comprehensive planning document to guide the City of Farmington in conserving, protecting, and managing its surface water resources. This report builds upon previous Surface Water Management Plans and addendums completed by the city in 1985, 1997 and 2006. This plan may be periodically amended to remain current with local practices and policies.

This plan has been created to meet the requirements detailed in Minnesota Statutes 103B and Minnesota Rules 8410, administered by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. This plan is consistent with the goals and policies of the Metropolitan Council’s 2030 Water Resources Management Policy Plan.

This plan is also consistent with the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization (VRWJPO) Watershed Plan, adopted by the watershed in November 2005. The VRWJPO plan provides a summary of water and natural resources within the district, and recognizes the impact of urban development on the hydrology of the Vermillion River and adjacent resources. The City of Farmington shares in the benefits and responsibilities of addressing those issues.

How can I get involved?

The city is involved with programs that help maintain the health and vitality of the system. Check them out:

Farmington Waterways

Vermillion River
The section of the Vermillion River that runs though Farmington is a designated trout stream. The area is mostly developed and includes the downtown business area and residential section of the City of Farmington. The city is part of the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization which was created to protect and manage the Vermillion River watershed. The approximate watershed area is 1,110 acres.

Trout Fishing on the Vermillion River

North Creek
North Creek is tributary to the Vermillion River. The area has gentle slopes that lead to flat topography which drains poorly. The approximate watershed area is 2,195 acres. Sections of North Creek are designated as a trout stream.

Middle Creek
Middle Creek is tributary to the Vermillion River. The area consists of mostly agricultural lands on generally rolling hills, with some residential. The total drainage area of Middle Creek is approximately 8,050 acres. Trout stream designation applies to sections of Middle Creek.

South Creek
South Creek is tributary to the Vermillion River. The area is generally rolling hills in agricultural lands. The total drainage area is approximately 980 acres. All areas of South Creek that are within the City limits are designated as a trout stream.

Prairie Waterway
The Prairie Waterway is a natural stormwater collection area that acts as a wetland wildlife habitat and park. This area is located on the east side of Highway 3 north of Highway 50.

Stormwater Ponds

Stormwater ponds are for the collection of rain and snowmelt that runs off the land surface (such as roads, rooftops, and lawns). Much of the water in stormwater ponds is transported though underground pipes that empty untreated water, into these ponds. Water levels can fluctuate greatly depending on weather conditions. The majority of these ponds are owned by the City of Farmington.

Wetlands

Wetlands act like a giant sponge during heavy rainfall, reducing flooding downstream. They also filter sediments, harmful pollutants and nutrients (such as phosphorus and nitrogen, which make water green with algae). The city participates in the Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP) where trained volunteers work as part of a community-based team to collect data on wetland plants and macro-invertebrates.

View the Wetland Ordinance.
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