ST. PAUL, Minn. - The legal battle over sinking water levels at White Bear Lake is headed for extra innings..
A judge last month ruled that the Minn. Dept. of Natural Resources, or DNR, allowed cities to pump too much ground water from aquifers, and that’s what caused the lake to shrink in the past decade.
Ramsey County District Judge Margaret Marrinan ordered the DNR to stop issuing new permits for municipal wells until the agency could determine how to protect the lake from changes in the aquifer levels.
The DNR announced now plans to appeal Judge Marrian's order, saying it would harm development within a five-mile radius of the lake to halt new ground water permits. Agency officials said restrictions on ground water pumping would place "unnecessary burdens on more than 500,000 White Bear Lake areas residents."
The citizens’ group that brought the lawsuit isn’t too pleased with the idea of heading back to court
"Well we’re really disappointed, because we felt the ruling was really clear, and the direction the judge gave to the DNR is clear, and the charge they have is clear," Shannon Whitaker of the White Bear Lake Restoration Association told KARE.
A DNR said the judge’s 140-page decision isn’t supported by current scientific evidence.
But Whitaker pointed out the studies used during the five-year legal tussle, and during the three-week trial, were done by the US Geological Survey.
"The USGS is the gold standard," Whitaker remarked. "In fact, the 2016 study received a national Society for Freshwater Science award."
The DNR said Judge Marrinan's opinion has far reaching implications for other bodies of water statewide, and could affect irrigation as wells as municipal water supplies.
Several successive years of unusually wet summers have brought water levels back up at White Bear Lake, but memories of abandoned beaches and useless docks are still fresh among residents of the area.
If a drier weather pattern sets in the lake could easily recede again, because it relies heavily on rainfall. And dry years is when pumping from the aquifer increases because of increased demand for water.
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