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Bluff Standards Update

The Lower Minnesota River Watershed District (LMRWD) updated its Watershed Management Plan in October 2018.  By State Statute, this update occurs every 10 years and local governments must comply with newly adopted standards.  Among the many updates to the Plan, the District established new standards related to land-disturbing activity along the Minnesota River Bluffs and other steep slope areas within the District. To align the City and Watershed District requirements, the City will consider updating its Bluff Protection Overlay Districts and related Code Sections.

View larger map

The map above allows users to identify the extents of the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District’s new bluff standard (orange) in comparison with the City of Bloomington's existing bluff protection overlay districts (transparent blue).  This map can be displayed in 3D by clicking and holding the right mouse button (or using 2 fingers while navigating on a mobile device).

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While many of the Watershed District's standards are consistent with Bloomington’s practices, a few amendments to the City Code are needed to ensure consistency.  Significant attention has been focused on standards for protecting steep slopes along the Minnesota River Valley from soil erosion. Bloomington has long taken steps to protect the bluffs along the river.  In 1982, the City adopted the Bluff Report District Plan, which provided the research and rationale for adoption of Bluff Protection Overlay (BPO) Zoning Districts that same year.  These districts protect areas situated between the 722 and 800 foot elevation lines along the River Valley bluff. 

The updated Watershed District Plan protects steep slope areas that have an average slope of 18 percent or greater measured over a horizontal distance of 25 feet or more, without referencing elevation lines.  This revised definition more accurately identifies areas with steep gradients, but the protected area varies from the City’s BPO District boundaries. 

Public Meetings

Study meetings (which members of the public may attend, but no testimony is taken) are scheduled on the following tentative dates:

  • May 9th - Planning Commission
  • May 14th - Sustainability Commission
  • June 10th - City Council

Informational meetings are open to the public, and will be scheduled in summer 2019.  Dates will be posted here once final.  To be notified of updates, please enter your email in the E-Subscribe box on the right.

Public Hearings are anticipated Fall 2019.  

Lower Minnesota River Watershed District (LMRWD) Resources

The full Watershed Management Plan can be viewed at the District's webpage:

Updated standards are found in the Plan's Appendices:

Please note that the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District is fully independent of the City of Bloomington. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the amendments please contact Linda Loomis.