Stormwater and shoreline best management practices for public water access sites

Image of lake shoreline.

Well-designed and managed public water accesses (PWAs) can maintain and even improve water quality by restoring shoreline buffers and alleviating storm water runoff.

PWAs provide an opportunity for users to interact with the natural riparian environment during their recreational pursuits. Many PWAs receive high use, and care must be taken in their design, construction, and maintenance to sustain the health of the natural resources and to provide quality experiences in the future. The DNR and local units of government have the responsibility to demonstrate exemplary development and management practices that will improve or maintain natural resources health and provide access to public waters of the state for recreational pursuits.

This guide describes sound practices based on the most current information, and will be updated as new methods become available. It is meant to assist with site-level development and management that will ultimately enhance the larger landscape. This guide should not be considered a comprehensive design tool. It will be especially helpful to resource managers in becoming familiar with sound design options. Engineers and ecological restoration professionals should be consulted when substantial site modifications are warranted.

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General guidelines for all public water access sites

The following standards and practices should be applied to all future PWA development and management:

Environmental revitalization of existing impaired sites

Example of a revitalized site.

These sites can be improved by regional field staff taking the following actions:

1) Before revitalization. 2) Shoreline restoration after regrading gravel lot. 3) Planted stormwater swale draining back end of lot.
  • Assess infrastructure conditions and natural resources Initial PWA Site Assessment Form
  • Seek assistance from a natural resource specialist and/or a shoreline restoration specialist PWA Assessment Detailed On-Site Analysis by Specialist(s)
  • Seek minimal engineering guidance
  • Divert runoff into vegetated areas via minor grade changes, such as surface, subsurface diversions, and curb cuts
  • Stop mowing to the water's edge, and assess emerging vegetation for one growing season before attempting restoration
  • Identify invasive species and apply DNR Operational Order 113 in their management
  • Apply DNR Operational Order 124, Plant Community Standards for Native Plant Community Restoration, as appropriate
  • Conduct a thorough soil analysis
  • Design and implement minor storm water management and/or shoreline best management practices as feasible Project example
  • Identify and implement regular maintenance practices to maintain functionality of best management practices

When considering projects in this category, DNR Parks and Trails and local units of government should explore possible partnerships with local soil and water conservation districts staff and with Conservation Corps Minnesota. Grants may be available through the first two organizations as they have similar goals to restore and maintain healthy water resources in their respective areas. Natural resources specialist services should be available to help assess shorelines.

Engineered redevelopment of existing sites with inferior performance

Example of a redeveloped site.

These sites will be redesigned by an engineer. Design should be guided by the following actions:

  • Assess infrastructure conditions and natural resources PWA Assessment Detailed On-Site Analysis by Specialist(s)
  • Minimize impervious surfaces
  • Disconnect impervious surfaces
  • Incorporate minimal design standards Minimal design standards for storm water management
  • Adhere to MN Rule 6120.3300 for shoreline setback Excerpt from Shoreland and Floodplain Management
  • Identify invasive species and implement DNR Operational Order 113
  • Preserve and/or restore existing natural vegetation
  • Apply DNR Operational Order 124, Plant Community Standards for Native Plant Community Restoration, as appropriate
  • Conduct a thorough soil analysis
  • Select, design, and implement storm water management and/or shoreline best management practices as feasible
  • Identify and implement regular maintenance practices to maintain functionality of best management practices
Development of new sites

Example of a new site.

Before acquiring a site, careful consideration should be given to the feasibility of developing an access that can fully implement best management practices and still serve the public good. New sites should be exemplary in demonstrating a state-of-the-art facility.

These sites will be designed by an engineer. The design should be guided by the following actions:

  • Assess infrastructure conditions and natural resources PWA Assessment Detailed On-Site Analysis by Specialist(s)
  • Minimize impervious surfaces
  • Incorporate minimal design standards Minimal design standards for storm water management
  • Adhere to MN Rule 6120.3300 for shoreline setback Excerpt from Shoreland and Floodplain Management
  • Identify invasive species and implement DNR Operational Order 113
  • Preserve and/or restore existing natural vegetation
  • Apply DNR Operational Order 124, Plant Community Standards for Native Plant Community Restoration, as appropriate
  • Conduct a thorough soil analysis
  • Select, design, and implement storm water management and/or shoreline best management practices as feasible
  • Identify and implement regular maintenance practices to maintain functionality of best management practices
Storm water runoff best management practices

The emphasis today is on Low Impact Development (LID): keeping the raindrop where it falls and filtering out harmful substances. These practices require replacing traditional engineering with design that disconnects impervious surfaces and disperses runoff into several small catchment areas using innovative site-specific solutions that mimic each site’s natural hydrology. This is especially important for areas closely connected to fresh water.

Minimum impact design standards for storm water management  »

Conveyance best management practices  »

Pretreatment best management practices  »

Treatment best management practices  »

Shoreline protection best management practices

Ecologically intact shorelines are essential for a healthy lake or river. State and local units of government have the responsibility to preserve, restore, and maintain the natural attributes of riparian areas today and for the future. PWA sites must demonstrate leadership in preserving, restoring, and maintaining a healthy buffer zone to assure that erosion and polluted runoff from the upland does not enter the water body.

Well maintained aquatic, transitional, and upland buffer zones serve to:

  • Stabilize shoreland, reducing erosion potential
  • Improve fish and wildlife habitat
  • Filter nutrients and pollutants
  • Enhance storm water infiltration and storage
  • Reduce erosion from upland sources
  • Lessen the impact of wave action causing shore erosion

Guiding principles

  • Protect and manage intact shore remnants
  • Restore degraded lakeshore systems
  • Reestablish degraded lakeshore systems with native plants of local origin
  • Minimize human disturbances
  • Showcase best shoreline management

Minimum impact design standards for shoreline protection  »

Best management practices for shores dominated by native vegetation  »

Best management practices for shores dominated by invasive plants  »

Best management practices for riprap shores  »

Best management practices to remediate shore erosion  »

For more information: Restore Your Shore

Legislation

The 2013 Legislature directed the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources to "utilize applicable design standards and best management practices when designing and constructing new public water access sites and renovating existing sites. The Commissioner shall make the design standards and best management practices available on the Department of Natural Resources website and notify Local Units of Government of the standards and practices."

Acknowledgements

The design standards and best management practices were created by a dedicated team of professionals. A special thanks to:

  • Angela Anderson, Project Leader, DNR Parks and Trails
  • Bill Bartodziej, Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District
  • Heather Baird, DNR Shoreline Habitat
  • Virginia Blakesley, DNR Parks and Trails
  • Doug Carter, DNR Engineering
  • Lindy Ekola, DNR Shoreline Habitat
  • Linda Escher, DNR Web Editor
  • Trygve Hanson, DNR Parks and Trails
  • Mike Isensee, Washington Conservation District
  • Bob Moore, DNR Parks and Trails
  • Bryan Pynn, Washington Conservation District
  • Dean Sether, DNR Engineering
  • Stefanie Stearns, DNR Web Coordinator
  • Nancy Stewart, Project Leader, DNR Parks and Trails
  • Gregg Thompson, City of Eagan

 

Contact

For more information, please contact: Nancy Stewart, Public Water Access and Fishing Pier Program Coordinator, 651-259-5616

 

Clean Water Funds Legacy Amendment logowere used to develop these design standards and best management practices. The funds are part of the Legacy amendment and may only be spent to protect, enhance, and restore water quality in lakes, rivers and streams.