Judge Won't Overturn White Bear Lake Decision

Judge Won't Overturn White Bear Lake Decision Photo: KSTP

March 30, 2018 04:18 PM

A Ramsey County judge Thursday denied a request by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to stay a ruling from last year.

That ruling prohibits the DNR from issuing appropriation permits for new groundwater wells, or increasing appropriations in existing groundwater permits, until it has reviewed existing permits for sustainability, and downsized any that do not comply with those standards.

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It also directed the department to put irrigation restrictions in place if water levels on White Bear Lake remain below 923.5 feet above sea level.

Judge Margaret Marrinan also denied a request for a new trial in the matter.

RELATED: DNR to Appeal Court Decision Regarding White Bear Lake Water Levels

The DNR said last fall that if the court ruling was not overturned, among other impacts, residential watering would be banned, affecting more than 500,000 residents in the area.

According to DNR data, White Bear Lake's water levels have remained under the proposed 923.5 feet for 48 of the last 58 years.

Marrinan wrote the DNR has failed to comply with state laws and rules designed to protect the environment in the matter.

RELATED: White Bear Lake Water Levels Rising Again

In a statement Friday, the DNR said it was still reviewing the decision before determining its next steps.

It also said it is nearing the completion of a refined groundwater model for the area.

"The DNR remains strongly committed to working with local communities to protect White Bear Lake, its underlying aquifer, and other precious water resources throughout Minnesota," the statement read in part. "But responsible, effective water management must be based on sound science and balance the needs of all Minnesota residents and businesses. Toward that end, we are nearing completion of a refined groundwater model for the White Bear Lake area.  

"That model indicates the court's residential irrigation ban would do little to raise lake levels. The model is also informing DNR about which wells may be having more of an impact on lake levels than others. As DNR has maintained consistently, this information is essential to informing decisions about what modifications to community and business water use may be warranted."

Meanwhile, a new bill introduced in the state senate this week - and a companion bill in the house - would stop the DNR from taking or continuing to take steps to comply with the court decision.

RELATED: Closed for Years, White Bear Lake Beach Set to Reopen
 

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