Valley Branch Watershed District

The Valley Branch Watershed District (VBWD) is a local unit of government that manages water resources within the Valley Branch watershed per authorities given in Minnesota Statutes 103B, 103D, and Minnesota Rules 8410. The VBWD covers approximately 70 square miles including numerous waterbody basins and streams. The VBWD lies primarily within Washington County, but includes approximately one square mile in Ramsey County.

The VBWD includes 15 cities and townships:  
Ramsey County Communities  Washington County Communities
 City of Maplewood  City of Afton City of Lake St. Croix Beach City of Pine Springs
 City of North St. Paul  Baytown Township City of Mahtomedi City of St. Mary's Point
 City of White Bear Lake  City of Grant City of Oak Park Heights City of Woodbury
   City of Lake Elmo City of Oakdale West Lakeland Township

The VBWD was originally created in 1968 with the focus of addressing existing flooding problems within the watershed. Since that time, the VBWD’s role has expanded to address all facets of water resources management. The VBWD is governed by a Board of Managers consisting of five individuals; four Managers are appointed by Washington County and one by Ramsey County. The VBWD Managers meet twice a month. Meetings are currently held on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. VBWD has no central office and no full-time staff. All services, including engineering, legal, accounting, inspection and secretarial services are provided by consultants. 

VBWD was established on November 14, 1968 to address existing flooding problems and prevent future flooding problems in the watershed. In the post-World War II era, prior to the formation of VBWD, St. Paul area residents began building permanent homes on the shores of lakes in rural areas east of St. Paul, including areas that are now within the VBWD. One such area included the “Tri Lakes” area of Lake Elmo (known as East Oakdale Township at that time), which includes Lakes Jane, Olson and DeMontreville. When the lakes began to rise in the mid-1960s, homeowners realized that the lakes were landlocked and that dozens of homes were in danger of flooding. Although proposals were made to provide outlets from these lakes, and actions were taken or proposed to prevent flows from entering these lakes, residents and local government officials were unable to reach agreement on a plan for solving the flooding problems (and potential flooding problems) in the watershed. Recognition of the need for a plan and an agency to administer the plan provided much of the impetus for forming the VBWD. On March 8, 1968, a petition signed by 103 residents of the VBWD area was submitted to the Minnesota Water Resources Board (now the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, or BWSR) requesting formation of a watershed district and the appointment of managers for the watershed district. A public hearing was held in Lake Elmo on August 6, 1968. Much of the testimony at the hearing addressed drainage problems and flooding between Silver Lake and Lake Jane. Other testimony was given regarding the damage to road beds as a result of standing water and flooding in the area. After considering the petition and the testimony at the public hearing, the Minnesota Water Resources Board established the VBWD on November 14, 1968.

The Valley Branch Watershed Management Plan
The VBWD Watershed Management Plan (Plan) documents the Managers’ guidelines and proposed tasks for managing the water resources within the boundaries of the VBWD to achieve their vision. The Plan provides data and other background information, outlines the applicable regulations, assesses watershed-wide and resource-specific issues, establishes goals and policies for the VBWD and its cities and townships, and identifies implementation tasks to be performed to achieve the VBWD goals.

The VBWD 2015-2025 Watershed Management Plan