Water Protection

Update - April 25, 2022wetland
The City of Elk River has contracted with WSB Engineering to administer the local governmental unit (LGU) responsibilities of the Wetland Conservation Act, Floodplain, Shoreland and Buffer permits.

For assistance with your project or permit, please contact Roxy Robertson via email, or at 763-541-4800.


A Wetland is a transition between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The water table is usually either near or at the surface. Wetlands often change with the seasons and respond to times of droughts and heavy rain. A wetland may not be wet all the time! 

There are distinct types of wetlands, as defined by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The main differences between them are depth of water and variety of vegetation.

Any work expected within a wetland or within the 45-foot wetland buffer and buffer strip must be approved by WSB Engineering prior to starting any work. If you plan to drain, fill, or create a wetland, you will need to apply for a Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act Application. Review the City Code (Chapter 30 Article VI Division 10.5 Wetland Buffering Requirements).


If you are planning any alteration to your lake or river lot, contact WSB Engineering at 763-541-4800. A Shoreland Permit may be required prior to the start of any work. Review the City Code (Chapter 30 Article VI Division 12 Shoreland Management).

Want to learn more about lakeshore restoration and stewardship? Check out Anoka Conservation District’s video for helpful information.


Floodplain Management Act 

Any work (terrain alteration, structural, etc.) within a floodplain is required to submit a Floodplain Application prior to the work. Review the City Code (Chapter 30 Article IV Division 11 Floodplain Management) to determine what restrictions apply within the Floodplain District.

Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM)

Maps are published by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which depict floodways, flood fringe, and general floodplain. To find out if your property is within the floodplain, enter you address into the FEMA maps, or contact the Environmental Division for assistance.

For more information on floodplains, please visit the DNR website.

Lake Orono

Lake Orono was formed in 1851 when the first dam was built for the milling industry in the City of Elk River. The City grew around the industry and has rebuilt the dam twice. Today, the Orono Lake Improvement District (OLID) along with the City of Elk River, and the Sherburne County Soil and Water Conservation District, continue to monitor the Lake for its continued recreational and aesthetic purposes. 

The city has adopted the Orono Beach Policy for Water Quality Testing due to the high bacteria levels in the past. If you notice any minor illness after swimming in Lake Orono, please contact the City of Elk River at 763-635-1000. For more information on surface water quality in the state, search your lake or stream.

Please refer to the Lake Orono Handbook for additional details about regulations, recreation, and water quality protection.

In the spring of 2018, Governor Dayton signed the bonding bill which included an appropriation of $1.5 million from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund to assist with the cost of the Lake Orono Restoration and Enhancement (LORE) project. In 1998, the lake was drawn down and sediment was removed by dredging. It was predicted that the lake would need to be dredged again in roughly 20 years. The lake was drawn down in fall of 2020 and sediment was removed over the winter months. For updates on the LORE project, please visit the project webpage.

Help protect our lake by properly cleaning docks, lifts, swim rafts, and other equipment, learn more here.

Lake Orono Water Tower
Lake Orono Dam