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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

103G.245 Work in public waters.

Subdivision 1. Permit requirement. Except as provided in subdivisions 2, 11, and 12, the state, a political subdivision of the state, a public or private corporation, or a person must have a public waters work permit to:

(1) construct, reconstruct, remove, abandon, transfer ownership of, or make any change in a reservoir, dam, or waterway obstruction on public waters; or

(2) change or diminish the course, current, or cross section of public waters, entirely or partially within the state, by any means, including filling, excavating, or placing of materials in or on the beds of public waters.

Subd. 2. Exceptions. A public waters work permit is not required for:

(1) work in altered natural watercourses that are part of drainage systems established under chapter 103D or 103E if the work in the waters is undertaken according to chapter 103D or 103E; or

(2) a drainage project for a drainage system established under chapter 103E that does not substantially affect public waters.

Subd. 3. Permit application. Application for a public waters work permit must be in writing to the commissioner on forms prescribed by the commissioner. The commissioner may issue a state general permit to a governmental subdivision or to the general public for classes of activities having minimal impact upon public waters under which more than one project may be conducted under a single permit.

Subd. 4. Structures in or adjacent to public waters. (a) The following definitions apply to this subdivision:

(1) "boathouse" means a structure or watercraft that is moored by spuds, cables, ropes, anchors, or chains that may be intended for habitation and has walls, a roof, and either an open well for boats or a floor from wall to wall and does not include watercraft that are designed and operated as motorboats; and

(2) "motorboat" means a watercraft that is designed for and is capable of navigation on the water and that has an adequately sized external or internal mechanical propulsion system for the type of watercraft.

(b) The commissioner, subject to the approval of the county board, may grant and prescribe terms and conditions for granting public waters work permits to establish, construct, maintain, and control wharves, docks, piers, levees, breakwaters, basins, canals, and hangars in or adjacent to public waters of the state, except within the corporate limits of a municipality.

(c) Boathouses are prohibited on public waters of Minnesota, except as allowed by paragraph (d).

(d) The commissioner may issue a public waters work permit for boathouses, when approved by the local governmental unit and:

(1) only in areas of historic use for the structures, as determined by the commissioner, and where the boathouse was in existence on public waters prior to January 1, 1997; or

(2) where the boathouse serves as a public service structure within a permitted commercial marina.

(e) A boathouse in existence on public waters prior to January 1, 1997, may be repaired or replaced, provided that the repairs or replacement are consistent with the permit issued by the commissioner under paragraph (d).

Subd. 5. Delegation of permit authority to local units of government. (a) The commissioner may delegate public waters work permit authority to the appropriate county or municipality or to watershed districts or watershed management organizations that have elected to assert local authority over protected waters. The public waters work permit authority must be delegated under guidelines of the commissioner and the delegation must be done by agreement with the involved county, municipality, watershed district, or water management organization and in compliance with section 103G.315.

(b) For projects affecting public waters wetlands and for wetland areas of public waters affected by a public transportation project as determined by the commissioner, the commissioner may waive the requirement for a public waters work permit if the local government unit makes a replacement, no-loss, or exemption determination in compliance with sections 103A.201, 103B.3355, and 103G.222 to 103G.2372, and rules adopted pursuant to these same sections.

(c) For projects affecting both public waters and wetlands, the local government unit may, by written agreement with the commissioner, waive the requirement for a replacement plan, no-loss, or exemption determination if a public waters work permit is required and the commissioner includes the provisions of sections 103A.201, 103B.3355, and 103G.222 to 103G.2372, and rules adopted pursuant to these same sections in the public waters work permit.

Subd. 6. Conformance with water and related land resource management plans. A public waters work permit may not be issued under this section if the project does not conform to state, regional, and local water and related land resources management plans.

Subd. 7. Effect on environment and mitigation. (a) A public waters work permit may be issued only if the project will involve a minimum encroachment, change, or damage to the environment, particularly the ecology of the waterway.

(b) If a major change in the resource is justified, public waters work permits must include provisions to compensate for the detrimental aspects of the change.

Subd. 8. Excavation in public waters. Public waters work permits for projects that involve excavation in the beds of public waters may be granted only if:

(1) the area where the excavation will take place is covered by a shoreland zoning ordinance approved by the commissioner;

(2) the work under the permit is consistent with the shoreland zoning ordinance; and

(3) the permit includes provisions for the deposition of excavated materials.

Subd. 9. Project affecting floodwaters. (a) A public waters work permit for a project affecting floodwaters may be granted only if:

(1) the area covered by the public waters work permit is governed by a floodplain management ordinance approved by the commissioner; and

(2) the conduct authorized by the public waters work permit is consistent with the floodplain management ordinance, if the commissioner has determined that enough information is available for the adoption of a floodplain ordinance.

(b) A public waters work permit involving the control of floodwaters by structural means, such as dams, dikes, levees, and channel improvements, may be granted only after the commissioner has considered all other flood damage reduction alternatives. In developing a policy on placing emergency levees along the banks of public waters under emergency flood conditions, the commissioner shall consult and cooperate with the office of emergency services.

Subd. 10. Change of level of public waters. (a) A public waters work permit that will change the level of public waters may not be issued unless:

(1) the shoreland adjacent to the waters to be changed is governed by a shoreland zoning ordinance approved by the commissioner; and

(2) the change in water level is consistent with the shoreland zoning ordinance.

(b) Standards and procedures for use in deciding the level of public waters must ensure that the rights of all persons are protected when public water levels are changed and must provide for:

(1) technical advice to persons involved;

(2) establishing alternatives to help local agencies resolve water level conflicts; and

(3) mechanics necessary for local resolution of water problems within the state guidelines.

Subd. 11. Emergency repairs. (a) The owner of a dam, reservoir, control structure, or waterway obstruction may make repairs that are immediately necessary in case of emergency without a public waters work permit under subdivision 1. The owner must immediately notify the commissioner of the emergency and of the emergency repairs being made. The owner must apply for a public waters work permit for the emergency repairs and necessary permanent repairs as soon as practicable.

(b) This subdivision does not apply to routine maintenance not affecting the safety of the structures.

(c) If the commissioner declares there is an emergency and repairs or remedial action are immediately necessary to safeguard life and property, the repairs, remedial action, or both, must be started immediately by the owner.

Subd. 12. Operation of structure prior to permit requirement. The owner of a dam, reservoir, control structure, or waterway obstruction constructed before a public waters work permit was required by law must maintain and operate the dam, reservoir, control structure, or waterway obstruction in a manner approved and prescribed by rule by the commissioner.

HIST: 1990 c 391 art 7 s 22; 1995 c 218 s 8,9; 1996 c 443 s 1,2; 1997 c 247 s 1; 2000 c 382 s 17; 2001 c 146 s 9; 2003 c 2 art 1 s 14; 2005 c 138 s 3