Who should I call
when I think a water regulation is being violated?
Minnesota water law
requires that people obtain permits before appropriating water or
physically changing shorelines, lakes, or riverbeds. The primary agency
regulating activities taking place below the Ordinary High Water Level
(OHW) of lakes and rivers is the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
(MDNR). If you think a water regulation is being violated, call your
area MDNR Conservation Officer (CO), who will assess and respond to
potential water violations. Check your telephone listing or call your
county sheriff dispatcher to identify your local CO. Conservation
Officers work out of their homes; the listed phone numbers are their
home phones. If you dont reach the CO, leave a message. If the
concern is urgent, call 911.
The MDNR Enforcement
Division is responsible for enforcing state MDNR laws and regulations
(e.g., wild rice harvest, public waters and public waters wetlands
alterations, fish and game violations). The MDNR also cooperates with
Turn In Poachers (TIP), a private, non-profit organization dedicated
to stopping poachers.
regulate activities above the OHW, such as tree removal or timber
harvesting. Some counties have more stringent shoreland regulations
than others. To get a copy of the shoreland regulations for your county,
contact your Planning and Zoning Department, your county Water Plan
Coordinator, or other appropriate local authority.
Filling or draining
wetlands may require a permit from the MDNR or the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers. If you believe you know of a violation, contact your
MDNR Conservation Officer, your local planning and zoning department,
or the MDNR Area Hydrologist (see the Who to Contact section
of the Minnesota Shoreland Management Resource Guide Web site for
Can I report violations
YES! The information
you give to a MDNR Conservation Officer or other regulatory official
is confidential. The Minnesota Data Privacy Rules prevent your name
from being released.
What will be done once
a violation is reported and confirmed?
Depending on the
area of the state in which you live and the type of violation, enforcement
may vary. Counties often send people who illegally alter shoreline
before the Planning Commission. After talking to the Planning Commission,
violators may be required to pay a late fee or penalty, and purchase
the appropriate permits. If a citation is issued, the violation is
a misdemeanor. Violators may have to remediate the site in some way.
In some cases, structures may need to be rebuilt within the guidelines
of county land use ordinances. Other agencies charged with enforcement,
such as the MDNR or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, may use fines,
imprisonment, remediation, restoration, or a combination of these
approaches to address violations.
How can we encourage
people to do the right thing?
and regulations help to protect and improve lakes and rivers. Education
helps people to understand their choices, incentives motivate them,
and regulations are minimum guidelines. When people are unaware of
the guidelines or unwilling to abide by the rules and respect water
as a common resource, Minnesotas laws and ordinances can be
Who can I call if I
have questions or a problem related to enforcing shoreland and water-related
Check your local telephone
listing, the Who to Contact
section of the Minnesota Shoreland Management Resource Guide Web site,
or the Web sites listed below for:
- Your local Conservation
- Your county Water
- City, township,
or county Planning and Zoning
- Your Soil and Water
Conservation District (SWCD) (www.maswcd.org)
- Minnesota Department
of Natural Resources (MDNR) (www.dnr.state.mn.us)
What are some additional
resources about enforcing shoreland and water-related laws?
- Work That Can
Be Done Without A Public Waters Work Permit. 2002. Minnesota Department
of Natural Resources, Division of Waters
- Minnesota Water
Rights and Regulation. 1996. E. Garvey, P. Gersmehl, and D. Brown.
Water Resources Research Center
- Lakescaping for
Wildlife and Water Quality, Appendix J: Minnesota Lakeshore Rules
& Regulations. 1999. C.L. Henderson, C.J. Dindorf, and F.
J. Rozumalski, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- Life on the Edge:
Owning Waterfront Property. 1998. M.D. Dresen and R. M. Korth,
Wisconsin Lakes Partnership