Water Protection


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 8 different 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. If you are unsure if you have a wetland on your property or not, please contact the Environmental Division at 763-635-1000.

Any work expected within a wetland or within the 45-foot wetland buffer and buffer strip must be approved by the City of Elk River Environmental Division at 763-635-1000 prior to starting. If you plan to drain, fill, or create a wetland, you will need to apply for a Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act Application though the Environmental Division. 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 the Environmental Division at 763-635-1000. A Shoreland Permit may need to be submitted prior to any work. Review the City Code (Chapter 30 Article VI Division 12 Shoreland Management)


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.

Visit the DNR for more info on floodplains.

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 Lake Orono Association along with the Lake Orono Water Quality Committee, 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.  Up to date results are available for review. 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.

The Lake Orono Handbook provides information about regulations, recreation and water quality protection on the lake.



Find out more information about the city's stormwater program.


A watershed is the drainage area for all water within a specified area. It is the area of land that includes a particular lake and all the rivers, streams, rain and runoff that flow into it. Watersheds are important to monitor for water quality.

The City of Elk River is located in both the Mississippi River - St. Cloud Watershed and the Rum River Watershed