The City of Minneapolis enforces ordinances designed to minimize stormwater runoff pollution, including these efforts:
- Requiring Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) for new developments and residential housing to reduce sand and dirt leaving construction sites
- Requiring long term stormwater management for new developments to eliminate post-development increases in pollution and runoff volume
- Controlling pesticide application by licensing applicators and restricting the sale and use of fertilizers containing phosphorus
- Controlling hazardous spills and enforcing regulations that prohibit illegal dumping and improper disposal into the storm drain system
- Preventing violations of non-stormwater discharges, such as industrial by-products, by reviewing permit applications and renewals
- Investigating complaints against existing permits
- Requiring removal rainleader connections to sanitary sewers to eliminate Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).
Erosion and sediment control (ESC): Chapter 52
The chapter 52 ordinance, in accordance with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), regulates the disturbance of topsoil, to ensure topsoil does not leave an excavation site or enter the storm drain system, on either private property or the public right-of-way.
- Sites disturbing more than 500 SF or 5 cubic yards of topsoil, including utility excavations and any residential or commercial demolition projects, need an ESC permit before you start work
- Demolition and construction sites greater than 5,000 SF or 500 cubic yards require an approved ESC plan prior to an ESC permit can be issued
If you are planning a project in Minneapolis that may require an ESC permit and have questions about the requirements
- Download an ESC permit at the Minneapolis Development Review section
- You, or the contractor that is hired, are required to have all appropriate permits clearly posted at the construction site.
- After obtaining your permit, call to notify Environmental Services at least 48 hours before disturbing any land and before construction starts.
- Failure to do this may result in a fine, your permit being revoked, or a stop work order could be issued.
Stormwater management requirements: Chapter 54
The chapter 54 ordinance establishes requirements for land disturbing activities on sites greater than one acre, and specifies stormwater management standards according to the receiving water body, which includes:
- The reduction of suspended solids to the Mississippi River
- Rate control for discharges to streams or areas prone to flooding
- The reduction in nutrients for discharges to lakes and wetlands
Stormwater management plans are required for all construction projects on sites greater than one acre in size, and are reviewed through the Minneapolis site plan review process. After installation of stormwater devices, the permitting process requires registration, inspection and maintenance for each device registered by Minneapolis Regulatory Services. Sites less than one acre are encouraged to incorporate stormwater BMPs in their design as a means of satisfying other City codes, such as land use green space requirements.
Lawn fertilizer: Chapter 55
The chapter 55 ordinance restricts the sale and use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus, to help reduce pollution of the Mississippi River and the lakes and creeks of Minneapolis. However, phosphorus fertilizer is allowed during the first growing season when establishing new lawns or if a soil test shows a need for phosphorus.
Lawn fertilizers contain nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). The label will indicate how much NPK is contained in each fertilizer bag. Generally, the amount of phosphorus needed is much less than nitrogen or potassium. Minneapolis soils are typically higher in phosphorus, which means fertilizer containing higher amounts of phosphorus is unnecessary.
Prohibited discharges to sanitary sewers: Chapter 511.190
CSOs can occur when heavy rain or melting snow causes sanitary sewers to overflow into stormwater pipes, mixing with stormwater runoff from buildings, parking lots and streets and flow, untreated, into the Mississippi River. The Chapter 511.190 ordinance helps to eliminate CSOs by mandating disconnection of any direct drainage of stormwater or clean non-stormwater discharges into the sanitary sewer system, which includes:
- Area drains
- Sump pumps
- A/C coolant water
- HVAC water
Minneapolis Public Works, Fire, Regulatory Services and Emergency Communications all work together to respond to hazardous spills, both large and small.
Cleanup involves containment, source elimination and recovery. The release is first contained to prevent hazardous materials from spreading. Storm drain inlets can be blocked to prevent entry to the storm system. After the spill has been contained and further releases have been eliminated, recovery can begin.
Small spills may be recovered by applying sand to the site. After the sand absorbs the spill, it is removed by a street sweeper. Minneapolis personnel perform follow-up procedures to find out what caused the event and to determine what measures can be taken in the future to prevent spills.
For large or extremely hazardous spills, the Fire Department's Hazardous Materials Response Team is mobilized. The State Public Safety Duty Officer may also dispatch an emergency cleanup contractor.
Prohibited discharges to storm drains
Complaints about unauthorized discharges (illegal dumping) of trash, oil, antifreeze or other contaminants into the storm drain system are received from many sources. City maintenance crews inspect stormwater structures and report suspected illicit discharges to Regulatory Services. These reports are investigated to determine the appropriate course of action, which can include enforcement and possible fines or other penalties.
Minneapolis residents can fill out an Environmental Management Complaint Form or call 311.