Public Works FAQs and Information


 Does Columbus have a Mailbox Policy?

Yes, the City of Columbus has a mailbox policy that residents are asked to follow.  This policy mandates height and setbacks, but does not mandate the type of mailbox.  However, the City will only repair mailboxes that are physically hit by City snow removal equipment and that comply to the MnDOT swing away mailbox type guidelines.  For your safety, the City asks that Gopher State One Call be contacted at 651-454-0002 prior to installing a mailbox, to accurately determine the location of a property's utilities.  It is also recommended that someone installing a new mailbox reference the United States Postal Service mailbox guidelines.  The City of Columbus' mailbox policy can be found below. 

 Winter Message from Public Works

Garbage Can Placement

When you dig out your driveway, be sure to dig out a spot for your garbage can.

Do not place garbage cans in the street. This creates a hazard as garbage cans could get hit by vehicles or taken away by snowplows. It is recommended that garbage cans be placed at least 3 to 5 feet into your driveway.

Do not place garbage cans on top of the snow piles. This placement might cause your garbage can to tip over and litter your garbage along the street.

Timing is everything. Putting your trash out the night before collection day can make life easier, but this puts your receptacle at risk of damage during nighttime snowplowing operations.

Retrieve your garbage cans soon after collection. Garbage cans often sit at the roadside on collection day until the evening. Empty cans are vulnerable to winds and snow removal operations and could cause a hazard if knocked into the roadway.

Keep Snow Out of the Street

After several snowfalls, the Public Works Department wants to remind property owners that it is illegal to push or dump snow into the roadway when clearing snow from your driveways. Road crews have seen numerous instances this past winter of homeowners or private contractors plowing driveways and leaving piles of snow in the street. Even when the bulk of the snow is pushed across the street it's often the windrows (the snow that's left behind in a row after it falls off the side of the plow blade) that becomes a hazard for motorists. Just a couple inches of snow are enough to cause a car to lose control and possibly cause an accident.

"We get it that there's an irony in our message. People dislike when snow plows leave snow at the end of their driveways and now we're saying don't push snow into the street, but this is a real safety issue. It's not that it creates a problem for our snow plow operators, it's creating a hazard for the public."

The Public Works Department also reminds motorists to leave extra room when driving near snow plows. "If our plows are out, it's because road conditions are less than ideal. We can be pushing large amounts of snow which can affect visibility, so we're asking people to give enough space, be patient, and remember we're all in this together. We're doing the best we can."

According to Minnesota State Statute 160.2715, “It shall be unlawful to obstruct any highway or deposit snow or ice thereon.”

Minnesota law and many local ordinances prohibit the plowing, blowing, shoveling or otherwise placing of snow onto public roads. This includes the ditch and right of way area along the roads. Placing snow on or near a public road creates hazards, including drainage problems, drifting, and sight obstructions. Violations are considered misdemeanors.  However, civil penalties may also apply if the placement of snow creates a hazard, such as a slippery area or frozen rut or bump, that contributes to a motor vehicle or pedestrian crash. The civil liability may extend to both the property owner and the person who placed the snow.


 When are seasonal road restrictions and increases?

The City of Columbus follows MnDOT's guidance in the Metro Zone regarding seasonal load limits. MnDOT ended spring load restrictions on March 18, 2024.

All of Columbus' City residential roads have a 5 ton limit, while City commercial roads have a 10 ton limit. THIS MAP displays all City roads and their load limits 

Limits for Anoka County's roads in Columbus can be viewed on this map.  

Load restrictions are implemented during the spring each year, in an effort to preserve and protect the road system during thaw and refreeze cycles. Streets are weakened during the spring by thawing water trapped below the pavement. The weight of vehicles on the road during this time can cause the bending and cracking. In order to minimize wear and allow the pavement's base adequate time to stabilize, limits are placed on the amount of weight that can travel on streets. 

 Are signs allowed in the City's roundabout?

No signs are allowed in the City's roundabout located at Broadway Avenue and Kettle River. Any signs placed in the center of the roundabout will be removed. This is for two reasons - the first is that signs placed there make it difficult for our Public Works team to mow the grassy area. And the second reason is safety related - it is unsafe to park your car around the roundabout to jump out and stake the signs, and people slowing down to read the signs within the roundabout can cause traffic backups, and in the worst case, accidents!

City Ordinances also do not allow signs placed in the road's Right-Of-Way (think 6-8 feet back from the road), but as long as they are placed in a thoughtful manner, the City won't be actively removing them. Please remember to keep signs out of sight lines, out of someone's property (unless you have permission), and remember to pick them up when the event is over! 

 When will gravel roads be treated with calcium chloride?

Due to weather, the Calcium Chloride treatment has been postponed to the end of June.

Columbus’ Public Works Team treats the City’s gravel roads once each spring to control dust levels. The City understands that dust on unpaved roads can be a huge nuisance, that can affect visibility and at times make driving hazardous. Uncontrolled dust from gravel roads can also degrade the road itself.

The most cost effective way to address the dust control issue on gravel roads is to spray them with calcium chloride. Calcium chloride is good at retaining moisture for long periods of time, as it resists evaporation. Thus it is one of the best solutions for keeping dust at a minimum.

Treating gravel roads with calcium chloride is also a great way for the City to save money. Treating roads with calcium chloride can reduce grading costs, gravel costs, labor costs, and to top it all off, calcium chloride doesn’t hurt the environment.

The only downside to this treatment is that calcium chloride can cause corrosion on your vehicle. To combat the corrosion, treat your car to frequent washes that include high pressure targeting of the undercarriage, or invest in having your car rust proofed – a service most auto body shops offer.

 Can we petition to have our road blacktopped?

Yes.  The document below explains the procedure for petitioning to have your road blacktopped.

 Where Does the City have Municipal Water and Sewer Services?

The area of Columbus surrounding the I-35 corridor is serviced with public water and sewer. City Staff work hard to provide this area with safe and reliable drinking water that meets federal and state water quality requirements. The remainder of the City is served by private septic systems and private wells.  

To learn more about the City's municipal water service, you can call the Public Works Department at 651-419-9003. For your reference, the Columbus 2022 Drinking Water Report can be found below. This report contains results from monitoring during 2022.  You can learn more about the monitoring and testing on the Minnesota Department of Health's Website.   

 AgBMP Water Quality Program

Anoka County, in conjunction with the State of Minnesota Department of Agriculture, has made available a low interest loan to residents and commercial businesses in Anoka County that may have a failed or failing well or septic system.  This is a water quality program and the repair or replacement must fix or prevent a water quality issue.  This program is called the AgBMP Water Quality Program, and you can learn more on Anoka County's Website.


 How Can I Test My Well Water?

City wells are tested regularly, but to ensure the safety of a private (home) well, the water must be tested annually. Pick up a free well water testing kit at Columbus City Hall, or one of the locations listed HERE. Testing takes place at the Anoka County Government Center in the City of Anoka. In order to have your water sample tested, you must make a drop-off appointment by calling ahead and paying in advance.

In general, Coliform Bacteria and Nitrates is recommended as the "standard tests," which requires two separate samples.

Since September 12, 2022, Anoka County Environmental Services (ACES) has expand its well water testing program to collect samples every Monday (9 a.m.-4 p.m.) and Tuesday (9 -11:30 a.m.), excluding holidays. Samples may be dropped-off at the ACES Front Desk, located on the sixth floor of the Anoka County Government Center. Samples for analysis must be collected as close to the drop off time as possible.

For more information, go to or contact Michael Wagner at (763) 324-4207. Testing is done by Anoka County Public Health & Environmental Services. More detailed information is available with the kit. A water testing video is available on the Anoka County website.

Pricing as of May 2023

Contaminant Cost
Coliform Bacteria $17
Nitrates $17
Arsenic $17
Chloride $17
Copper $17
Fluoride $17
Total Hardness $35
Iron $17
Iron Bacteria $60
Lead $18
Manganese $17
Mercury $45
Conductivity $17
Sulfate $18
Phosphorus $17

Minnesota Well Index

 Should I seal my well?

Unused wells are potentially dangerous for children, animals and our drinking water supply. Resources are available to help you locate an unused well on your property and have it permanently sealed by a licensed/registered well contractor. Watch this video to learn more about unused wells, or visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for more information about well disclosure and property transfers. Visit Anoka Conservation District's website to learn about their abandoned well sealing cost sharing program.