Citizens’ Group Commences Lawsuit to Protect and Restore White Bear Lake from Declining Water Levels Caused by Groundwater Pumping
MINNEAPOLIS (November 27, 2012) —The White Bear Lake Restoration Association, a Minnesota nonprofit organization, has initiated a lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and DNR Commissioner Thomas Landwehr in an effort to restore and protect water levels in both White Bear Lake and a groundwater aquifer in the White Bear Lake region. The lawsuit was filed today in Ramsey County District Court alleging violations of the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA).
Over the past decade, White Bear Lake—one of the largest, deepest, and cleanest lakes in the Twin Cities metropolitan area—has suffered a dramatic and historic water level decline. A recent study by the United States Geological Survey concluded that the lake’s decline corresponds with declining water levels in the Prairie du Chien-Jordan groundwater aquifer in that area, to which the lake is connected. Increases in high-capacity groundwater pumping are a likely cause for declines in both natural resources, the study found.
These record-low water levels have had significant negative impacts on White Bear Lake’s ecosystem, its available recreational activities, and its scenic and aesthetic qualities,” said Jan Conlin, an attorney with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P., who is representing the plaintiff. “The DNR is the state agency responsible for permitting high-capacity groundwater appropriations. Since 2000, it has authorized substantial increases in groundwater appropriations in the White Bear Lake area, while at the same time White Bear Lake and the Prairie du Chien-Jordan aquifer have suffered unnatural declines in their water levels.”
According to Greg McNeely, chair of the White Bear Lake Restoration Association, “The situation for White Bear Lake is critical – we are running out of time and water. The lake has served as a community and regional asset for generations of Minnesotans. People who know and love it, want to save it.
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief under MERA to obligate the DNR to restore White Bear Lake and the Prairie du Chien-Jordan aquifer to protected elevations and to take measures to prevent water levels from unnaturally declining below protected elevations in the future.
About White Bear Lake Restoration Association
The White Bear Lake Restoration Association (wblra.org) is a Minnesota nonprofit organization comprised of concerned citizens dedicated to protecting and restoring White Bear Lake.