The procedure assures that aquatic resources are protected when soil is disturbed during a University of Minnesota project. The goal is to avoid or minimize wetland impact when a practicable alternative is possible. Following the procedure will help project managers meet scope, schedule, and budget while complying with legal requirements.
Documenting the decision-making process will protect aquatic resources while allowing reasonable development through fair, flexible and balanced permit decisions including the accumulation or use of credits. Clearly documented decision making will allow the University to bank credit for projects that restore or enhance wetlands.
Building Code Department (BCD). BCD issues permits for utility work and grading. Permits issued by BCD are coordinated with other government agencies who have jurisdiction for wetland development.
Capital Project Development (CPM). CPM Project Manager (PM) manages and coordinates the project construction process. The PM manages the RFP process for selecting a Qualified Environmental Consultant (QEC) and may hire a certified Wetland Delineator. The PM will administer agreements with individuals serving on the Technical Advisory Panel. The AVP for CPM will coordinate use of wetland credits.
Department of Environmental Health and Safety (DEHS). DEHS distributes Notices of Application and Notices of Decision. DEHS will notify the Technical Advisory Panel. The AVP for UHS is the signatory for Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) Decisions regarding Replacement Plans and Bank Plans. Other WCA Decisions such as Exemption, No Loss, Wetland Boundary & Type, and Sequencing are signed by the Director of DEHS.
Facilities Management (FM). FM manages water, sewer and storm water utilities. FM oversees operations, maintenance, and system planning, design and construction.
Planning Space and Real Estate (PSRE). PSRE analyzes the feasibility of projects and provides services including purchasing or sale of University property. PSRE will record Notices of Application and Notices of Decision and other information about University property. Planners may manage environmental assessment and Wetland Delineation during the feasibility stage of planning.
Wetland Development Procedure
A QEC will indicate whether there might be a wetland within the project area during the project environmental assessment.
If the initial environmental assessment indicates that wetlands may be present within the project area, a certified Wetland Delineator will prepare a Wetland Delineation Report.
If the proposed project may impact a wetland, impacts should be described in project documentation. Project documentation must include a wetland impact assessment which describes the type and amount of wetland affected. The decision-making process must describe how impacts have been avoided or minimized. When applicable, the impact statement must identify a wetland replacement strategy or the use of a wetland bank credit.
When necessary, a conclusory statement should state that it is has been determined that there are no practical alternatives to the proposed wetland impact, and that the project plan includes all practical measures to minimize harm.
Projects involving wetlands require coordination with regulatory agencies. The extent of that coordination can vary and may involve pre-application meetings early in project development, submittal of a finalized project document, or formal correspondence.
The University of Minnesota has jurisdiction under the WCA over wetlands that are not Public Water Wetlands. The WCA is implemented by a Local Government Unit (LGU), with oversight provided by the BWSR. As a state agency, UMN is the LGU on lands that it administers. However, other government agencies may also have jurisdiction over wetland development.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has jurisdiction over and issues Clean Water Act Section 404 permits for non-exempt discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including jurisdictional wetlands. A Joint application for Activities Affecting Water Resources in Minnesota and supporting documentation must be submitted to responsible agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have authority over wetlands located on lands that they administer. When wetlands are located on federal lands such as a wildlife and waterfowl refuges or national forest, coordination with the appropriate federal agency is required.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has jurisdiction over and issues permits for “public waters and public waters wetlands” as defined in Minnesota Statute 103G.005. Public waters are identified on DNR’s map of public waters and wetlands (PWI) for each county in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) may be involved through application of its delegated authority under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.
Technical Evaluation Panel (TEP)
For a project impacting a wetland, the University must assemble a TEP to oversee the project development.
The TEP decides and records decisions concerning the public value, location, size and type of wetland. The TEP may decide that there is no wetland loss or that the project is exempt from the WCA or the TEP may identify and evaluate potential wetland replacement sites.
It is composed of qualified members of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, the local soil and water conservation district and the University of Minnesota. It will also include other members when required by law. The TEP members include:
- The University of Minnesota as Local Government Unit (LGU).
- The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR).
- The relevant county soil and water conservation district.
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) when development affects public water.
- Tribal governments when development is within reservation boundaries.
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