Surface Water Management Fees

Surface Water Management Header Image

Municipal Stormwater (MS4)

Rain and snow melt run over the many hard surfaces in urbanized areas — roads, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, roof tops, etc. — and pick up pesticides, fertilizers, oils, metals, road salt, sediment, trash, and other pollutants and carry them into storm drains. Storm drains discharge directly into lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands (the water is not treated first) so stormwater runoff is a leading source of water pollution.

MS4 Image explaining what MS4 is

In addition, stormwater runoff from hard urban surfaces travels quickly and in large quantities, which results in damage to rivers, streams, and wetlands; destruction of aquatic habitats; and elevated pollutant levels reaching surface waters. Pavement and other hard surfaces also prevent stormwater from soaking into the ground and recharging groundwater. Local public entities that own or operate municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4) play a key role in preventing stormwater runoff from harming Minnesota’s valuable water resources.

What is an MS4?



A Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) is a conveyance or system of conveyances (roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, man-made channels, storm drains, ponds, lakes, etc.) that is also:

  • Owned or operated by a public entity
  • Designed or used for collecting or conveying stormwater
  • Not a combined sewer
  • Not part of a publicly owned treatment works

MS4s in Minnesota must satisfy the requirements of the MS4 general permit if they are at least one of the following:

  • Located in an urbanized area and used by a population of 1,000 or more
  • Owned by a municipality with a population of 10,000 or more
  • Have a population of at least 5,000 and the system discharges to specially classified bodies of water.

The MS4 general permit is designed to reduce the amount of sediment and other pollutants entering state waters from stormwater systems. Entities regulated by the MS4 general permit must develop a stormwater pollution prevention program and adopt best practices.

In 2009, due to the increased expenses in satisfying the City’s MS4 permit, the City of Forest Lake adopted the Surface Water Management Fee.  This fee is charged to all tax parcels within the City and is used to complete items required within the MS4 permit.

  • In 2022, the Surface Water Fee is $12.50/Quarter or $50/yr. per REF

What is the Fee Used For...



The Surface Water Management Fund is used to satisfy the City’s MS4 permit including:

  • Enhanced Street Sweeping Throughout the entire City
  • Weed Harvester Operation/Maintenance on Forest Lake
  • Boat Inspections at Forest Lake and Clear Lake
  • AIS Treatment for Forest Lake and Clear Lake
  • Downtown Stormwater Planning
  • Culvert Installations/Repairs
  • Pond Assessments and Cleanings
  • Surface Water Mapping Projects
  • Judicial Ditch Maintenance
  • Water Quality Testing
  • Stormwater Infrastructure Rehab during Road Projects
  • Televising of Stormwater pipe
  • Regional Stormwater Planning
  • MS4 permit administration 
  • Public Outreach and Education
  • City Staff Training


What do things cost...

All of the activities required to satisfy the City’s MS4 permit come at a cost and are completed in the most economical, efficient, and effective manner.  To do this, the City of Forest Lake uses both Public Works staff, Consulting Engineers, and outside contractors to complete the above items.  Below are a few examples of the costs:

  • Enhanced Street Sweeping - $100,000 annually
  • Pond Cleaning – $50,000-$100,000/pond  (Forest Lake has over 100 ponds and counting)
  • Rural Culvert Replacements - $5,000-$10,000 each
  • Easement Pipe Lining - $30,000 annually
  • Weed Harvester - $20,000 annually
  • Urban Curb/Gutter and Catch Basin Repairs - $25,000-$150,000 annually
  • AIS Treatment/Boat Inspections - $60,000 annually
  • MS4 Permit Administration - $25,000 annually
  • Recent Equipment Purchases - $250,000 (Regen Sweeper),  $120,000 (Excavator)
  • Engineering Costs - $50,000 annually
  • Public Works Staff Labor - $100,000 annually

How does Forest Lake's Surface Water Management Fee Compare with other City's?

*Chart below if from 2021, fees may have been adjusted since this chart was originally published.



Surface Water Management Fees

Have additional questions regarding the surface water management fee?  Give us a call at 651-464-3550.