Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization Information

VLAWMO was formed in 1983 to protect the Vadnais Lake Watershed area in northern Ramsey County and a small portion of Anoka County. VLAWMO covers approximately 24 square miles in the northeast metropolitan area. The watershed is a Joint Powers organization that encompasses the City of North Oaks, and portions of the Cities of White Bear Lake, Gem Lake, Vadnais Heights, Lino Lakes, and White Bear Township.

Gem Lake

Surface Area 40 acres
Average Depth 7 ft
Volume 183 acre-ft
Subcatchment Area 363 acres
Location Gem Lake

Sitting in the southeast corner of VLAWMO, Gem Lake is a unique basin within the Watershed. The Gem Lake subwatershed does not drain outside of its boundary, therefore, none of the water falling in the Gem Lake subwatershed leaves the area, and does not drain to any other area within VLAWMO. The south end of the lake is wetland while the north gets as deep as  14 feet and exhibits deep lake characteristics.

The lake is completely surrounded by private property and has no public access. Monitoring has been performed on the lake since 2005. Water quality has increased by a good margin since 2009, showing a decrease in total phosphorus and chlorophyll A. It has not confirmed but is believed that the Highway 61 road reconstruction improved stormwater inflow into the lake, increasing water quality.

As of 2018, Gem Lake has been de-listed from the Minnesota state impaired waters list. Click here for the formal announcement on this exciting success story!

About the Watershed

Anytime is a great time to learn about the watershed, explore options for your property, and get involved. Below are three options from VLAWMO:

  1. VLAWMO has grant opportunities to help property owners with projects that benefit water quality. These grants can help make property improvements, restore problem areas, and solve drainage issues. VLAWMO staff provides a free on-site visit to assess property needs and opportunities, as well as explain the grant process. Contact 651-204-6071 for more information or to request an on-site visit. Click here for more information on grants.
  2. A variety of workshops are scheduled on topics of drainage solutions, ground covers, pollinators, native plants, resilient yards and more. Click here for more information on workshops.
  3. VLAWMO has many resources available for residents. Click here for more information on tips, tricks, and resources available.

Wetland Buffers

A buffer is an area surrounding a wetland, pond, stream, or lake where plants are allowed to grow. A strip of natural, native vegetation is an asset for lakes and wetlands. Buffers provide deep roots and more surface cover to hold water and soil in place, providing slow movement of water into the lake or wetland. This is an advantage because erosion is reduced, fewer nutrients wash into the water, and habitat is improved. Keeping sediment and nutrients on land and out of the water prevents strong algae blooms, and keeps wetlands functioning well for groundwater infiltration. Click here for more information and diagrams on buffers.

The importance of buffers around stormponds and wetlands

Illicit Discharge

Illicit discharge is the disposal or discharge of pollutants and non-storm water materials into a storm sewer system via surface flow, direct dumping into the storm sewer or water body, or through illegal connections to the county storm sewer system.

Illicit discharges: Acceptable discharges
  • Improper disposal of auto and household chemicals
  • Spills from roadway accidents or vehicle leaks
  • Improper disposal of yard and pet wastes
  • Construction side sediment
  • Drilling operation waste
  • Laundry and car wash water
  • Septic tan discharge and sanitary wastewater
  • Chlorinated pool water
  • Clean water discharges including water line flushing
  • Air conditioning condensation
  • Irrigation water, sump pump and lawn watering discharge
  • Individual residential war wash water
  • De-chlorinated swimming pool water
  • Discharges or flow from firefighting and other activities necessary to protect public health and safety
  • Normal rainfall

For additional information on illicit discharge see the resources below.

Smart Salting

Smart salting is a new phrase that you may be hearing these days. The concept refers to being thoughtful about your use of winter salting in order to maintain groundwater quality and help the environment.

Sometimes salt is needed to make sidewalks and entryways safe for everyday use. When necessary, salt can be used in a smarter way by adopting the motto: Shovel, Select, Scatter, Sweep.

Store shovels and tools in convenient locations before winter weather strikes. Consider both a scoop and push shovel for maximum preparedness. Use tools first: shovel, scraper or broom.

Select a de-icing product carefully, depending on temperature, and allow for the expected melt time. Use sand or grit for temporary traction.

Use salt only where it’s critical, striving for 3” between crystals. Plan ahead and practice to make smart estimates quick and easy. Plan ahead for the space you expect to maintain during the winter and keep a 12-ounce cup in a convenient place with the salt storage. Cover storage buckets or store salt indoors to keep it dry.

Disperse salt and other de-icers evenly, without piles. The goal is not to form a blanket, but to break the bonds of ice/compacted snow. Once salt crystals infiltrate the ice/compacted snow, a scraper can chop and scrape the surface. Shoveling off ice chunks reduces the need to re-apply. Salt that is diluted with meltwater becomes less effective: re-freezing occurs and raises the risk for falls.

More product doesn’t mean faster results. The chemical reaction depends on temperature. Excess product remains in meltwater and runoff. Never apply de-icers to dry pavement or loose snow.

Sweep up extra salt, sand and grit. Salt and grit can be re-used, but sand will likely lose its traction and should be thrown in the trash.

Smart Salting protects local water and streets.

Pet Waste

Pet waste is among the latest topics in the world of water quality. Pet waste carries pathogens, among which is fecal coliform. According to the Minnesota Stormwater Manual, uncollected pet waste often gets washed into lakes and other waterways where it decomposes and releases ammonia into the water. Ammonia is harmful to fish and amphibians and promotes weed growth.

Help keep people safe and water clean:

  • Pick-up waste ASAP instead of letting it sit
  • Practice responsible habits: Always bring a doggie-bag on walks.
  • Tell a friend that freshwater needs our help to balance nutrient and bacteria levels.

Scoop it, bag it, trash it.

Stormwater Management

Stormwater runoff is a major pollutant because it carries leaves, grass clippings, oil, salt, and other debris straight into lakes and wetlands. You can help reduce the impact of stormwater on Gem Lake and the greater watershed.

North Scheuneman Road Surface Water Management Plan. This plan is intended to
provide a summary of the analysis completed to alleviate flooding and inundation in the north
Scheunemann Road area. Three primary areas were investigated throughout the study area, with a total
of six scenarios for the flooding and inundation and two scenarios for water quality options.

VLAWMO Water Management Policy

Clean Water and Lawn Care

Comments are closed

  • To reach the City of Gem Lake – please call 651 747-2790 or 651 747-2792

    City offices/days open: 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Monday-Thursday, closed Fridays.