The SRWMO is a joint powers special purpose unit of government composed of member communities of Linwood, East Bethel, Columbus and Ham Lake collaborating to manage water resources. This arrangement is based upon the recognition that water-related issues and management rarely stop at municipal boundaries. The SRWMO's boundaries are defined by the West Branch of the Sunrise River's watershed to the West and South Branch of the Sunrise's watershed to the south. To the north and east the boundaries are defined by the Anoka County boundary. It does not extend into other counties because watershed organizations are only required by law within twin cities metropolitan counties.
The SRWMO is involved in many aspects of water management including planning and regulation, water quality, flooding, shoreland management, recreation, wildlife, and erosion control. The WMO has a state-approved watershed management plan which outlines their policies and plan of work. Cities' and townships' local water management plans must be consistent with the WMO's plan. The SRWMO Board does not have employees. Instead, it works through cooperative efforts of the member cities and townships, or contracts with the Anoka Conservation District or other consultants.