County briefs: County groundwater plan for 2014-2024

The Washington County Board of Commissioners conducted a public hearing March 4 on a proposed Washington County Groundwater Plan for 2014-2024.

No residents spoke at the hearing. The hearing was extended to March 11 to allow for more public comment.

The Washington County 2003-2013 Groundwater Plan expired at the end of 2013. The county has been updating the plan for 2014-2024. The county has the authority to write and implement groundwater plans under state law. A county’s groundwater plan provides the organizational framework to establish policy and solve local water problems.

All of the county’s drinking water is from groundwater, and the plan identifies issues that affect groundwater quality and quantity, and explores ways in which to address those issues. The groundwater plan provides a countywide framework that guides the protection and conservation of groundwater resources. It is developed with the assistance of the county’s groundwater advisory committee that is appointed by the county board and the technical advisory committee.

The goal of the groundwater plan is to “manage the quality and quantity of groundwater in Washington County to protect health and ensure sufficient supplies of clean water to support human uses and natural ecosystems.”

The county will submit the plan for review by the Metropolitan Council and state agencies. The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) will have final review and approval authority. The county must adopt the plan and implement it within 120 days of BWSR approval.

Two areas of discussion in the plan are to regulate the land spreading of septage to protect groundwater; and to align the county Groundwater Plan with the county Solid Waste Master Plan to develop and support waste management practices that will minimize the need for landfills to protect groundwater.

Community Thread to manage Medical Reserve Corps

Washington County will continue to work with Community Thread, a nonprofit organization in Stillwater, to manage the county’s Medical Reserve Corps.

The county board approved the agreement with the agency March 4.

The agreement is for the 10th year in which Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment will work with Community Thread for the recruitment and management of volunteers registered in the County’s Medical Reserve Corps. The Medical Reserve Corps is part of the national Citizens Corps initiative to mobilize and coordinate volunteers to respond to disasters of all kinds.

The county receives federal public health emergency preparedness funding through the Minnesota Department of Health and purchases volunteer management services with a portion of that funding. Under the terms of the agreement Community Thread will:

• maintain a system of health care professional volunteers, which includes volunteer readiness, deployment, and response;

• recruit health care and related support volunteers and provide verification of credentials;

• provide volunteer orientation and training in coordination with the Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment;

• develop and maintain non-emergency public health volunteer roles within Washington County, further strengthening public health services and public health emergency response initiatives.

The agreement is for calendar year 2014.

County board supports transportation funding

The Washington County Board of Commissioners expressed its support for efforts to educate the public on Minnesota’s transportation challenges and to build a coalition that will work to advance a comprehensive transportation bill in the 2014 state legislative session.

A resolution approved March 4 notes that Minnesota counties have had to rely increasingly on the property tax to maintain roads and bridges. The resolution asks that a comprehensive transportation solution include adequate funding for roads, bridges and transit, and address the varying needs in different parts of the state. The board also supports efforts to build a coalition of partners to help advance a comprehensive and balanced omnibus transportation bill during the 2014 legislative session.

The board will review bills individually before providing support for any particular bill.