WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. - A Ramsey County judge says a lawsuit against the Department of Natural Resources involving the dwindling White Bear Lake can move forward.
The White Bear Lake Restoration Association, along with the White Bear Lake Homeowners' Association sued the DNR. The DNR wanted that suit thrown out, but a judge disagreed Wednesday.
"While we respect the judge's opinion in this matter, we disagree with the decision. Going forward we are discussing our options," said DNR spokesperson Chris Niskanen.
Niskanen said it was an ongoing legal matter and couldn't discuss it any further.
"There's not an option; we have to do something. And since it's man-made, it's got to be reversed and it's got to be up to man to fix the problem," said Greg McNeely who helped start the White Bear Lake Restoration Association.
While each day he knows he is losing the lake he's lived next to for years, he feels the judge's ruling may be the first step in winning some of it back.
"The law suit is to bring attention to the problem and we've done that," he said.
He and other neighbors believe the DNR violated environmental standards by issuing too many water permits to too many communities around this lake. They say it's strained the aquifer, which continues to drain this lake.
"They never studied the aggregate effect or the interaction of the surface water and the aquifer," alleged Jan Conlin who is the attorney representing the White Bear Lake Restoration Association.
She said the ruling will now allow for discovery and depositions to take place this fall with a trial possibly happening next August.
"They're not seeking any monetary damage," she said of her clients. "They're not seeking a reduction in property values. All they're doing is trying to fix the lake."
Homeowners are asking the DNR to fix a lake that has dropped more than five feet in ten years. They also want to keep the lake at a designated level, a level today where children run where they once swam.
Homeowners are open to any fix, including the proposal that would use water from the Mississippi River to fill White Bear Lake. Nothing has been decided.
"Hopefully they'll start playing ball with us. This is a problem that has to be fixed," said McNeely.
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