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OutdoorMN News - DNR to appeal White Bear Lake ruling

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Court ruling would place unnecessary burdens on more than 500,000 White Bear Lake area residents

Judge’s ruling would immediately halt important development within 5 miles of White Bear Lake, stalling road construction, utility improvements, and residential construction

Ruling not supported by scientific evidence, creating precedent that could restrict development and impose new burdens on residents across Minnesota 

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources today announced it will appeal a Ramsey County District Court ruling regarding water management of White Bear Lake and its surrounding groundwater. Without appeal, the court’s ruling would place unnecessary burdens on more than 500,000 White Bear Lake area residents, and immediately halt important development within 5 miles of the lake – stalling road and utility improvements, business growth, and residential construction.

The judge’s ruling – which is not rooted in the best available science – would not significantly help the lake reach the court’s desired water level, and would likely set a new statewide precedent imposing similar burdens and restrictions on residents, businesses, and communities across Minnesota.

“The DNR is strongly committed to protecting Minnesota’s many precious water resources, including White Bear Lake and its surrounding aquifers. We take that responsibility very seriously,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “But responsible, effective water management must be supported by sound science. The decisions we make must balance the needs of all Minnesota residents and businesses to ensure everyone has reliable access to clean, affordable water. That important balance, and the quality of life we all enjoy, are at stake in this ruling, which merits a thorough review by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.”

Under the District Court’s ruling, if water levels remain below 923.5 feet above sea level in White Bear Lake, new irrigation and development restrictions would be imposed on area residents and businesses. DNR data show, however, that White Bear Lake’s water levels have registered below this proposed 923.5-foot trigger level in 48 out of the past 58 years. And according to the best available science, the DNR has concluded these new restrictions would have little impact on raising or maintaining the court’s desired water levels in White Bear Lake.

Nonetheless, if the District Court’s ruling is not overturned, residential watering would be banned for 500,000 area residents by early 2018, and could not resume until the lake rises above 924 feet. Under the court’s ruling, this expansive residential watering restriction would remain in place for multiple years during dry periods, and would have likely been in place for the past 10 years had the court’s order been in effect.

Additionally, all temporary water permits for construction within 5 miles of White Bear Lake would be immediately prohibited under the court’s ruling – a change that would stall road construction, utility, and residential development projects in area communities. In the last five years alone, 31 construction projects within 5 miles of the lake required such a permit.

“The DNR is firmly committed to protecting our lakes, rivers, and aquifers. But unnecessary water restrictions can be profoundly disruptive to people, our economy, and communities,” Landwehr said. “The science does not support such a broad irrigation ban, nor these extremely restrictive development prohibitions. More importantly, these restrictions would do little to achieve or sustain desirable water levels in White Bear Lake.”

Landwehr said, however, that the agency does believe some changes to water use may be needed and it is developing an enhanced water model to better understand the impact of pumping from specific wells near White Bear Lake. “This is information that we have only recently been able to develop,” he said. “With this new tool, we are committed to working with local communities, businesses and residents to make carefully targeted, well-informed modifications to water use in the area.”

DNR water experts and local government leaders have serious concerns about the precedent the court’s ruling could establish. If applied elsewhere in Minnesota, this restrictive approach to water management could severely curtail new and amended groundwater appropriation permits for all types of uses, beyond what is needed to ensure water sustainability.

The DNR has until Oct. 30 to appeal the court’s decision, but is announcing its decision now because many area communities are concerned with the ruling and want to know how the DNR will proceed. During the appeal process, the DNR will work with permit holders in the White Bear Lake area to implement some elements of the ruling. The agency will be talking soon with communities about how it will approach this in as collaborative a manner as possible.

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It seems to me that this ruling finally recognizes that the DNR (or somebody) has totally dropped the ball with respect to managing ground water resources across the state.   

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • CigarGuy
      My neighbor at my cabin recently bought several acres adjoining his property and another neighbor had posted part of it-thinking he owned it.  My neighbor was planning on having it surveyed, so for the heck of it, I downloaded the trial OnX hunt map.  Only one pin on my property is visible in the winter, it was right on the pin.  We went and checked his property lines out and the neighbor that posted it, didn't own as much property as he thought he did. The OnX map property lines were fairly close to the actual lines, which were verified when surveyed.  If there are indeed pins or some kind of stakes in the ground, this should get you close enough to use a metal detector. 
    • Wanderer
      None of the GPS mapping or GIS can be used as legal documents.  The best thing would’ve been to spend the $350 or so for Title Insurance when the land was purchased.  With the insurance the lines are checked and any discrepancies are corrected. After that, yup, it’s up to getting a new survey. best of luck to ya.  
    • Borch
      Pretty nice weather and travel conditions right now.  The ice will be around for a while.  Fishing was slow for us today.
    • papadarv
      Spring is here, open water soon. In Feb. Navionics did a big High Def. update to many lakes. Several  lakes i looked at appeared to have great contour improvements. Two lakes Coon in Anoka and Ottertail in Ottertail co., which i am very famuliar with, were part of the group. I decided to compare the 2 lakes to Iakemaster so I spent the $30 for the 2 maps for Humminbird Fishsmart App. I also obtained a Garmin LakeVU of a portion of Coon. Navionics & Lakemaster very close to each other, Garmin LakeVU not so close. The screen shot has Navionics on left, Lakemaster cennter & Garmin right.  Boating App owners - great time to do the Update all.
    • pikeandchester
      The GPS ideas are great. Garmin Huntview for Minnesota is $79.99 and OnX has 7 day free trial. The plan is to have the property surveyed. I believe Cliff makes a good point, do it right from the start. More time for fishing less time messing around looking for markers and  buying equipment just to possibly end up having the survey done in the end. Thank you for your responses they have been very helpful!
    • Mike89
      good luck there!!!!
    • JBMasterAngler
      I decided to skip Mille Lacs today. With the poor fishing reports and even poorer travel options out there, I’m hoping next week might be better. So bring on the sun for the next 7 days!
    • JBMasterAngler
      Got out to west rush early this morning. No slush issues while I was there, but that could be different by days end. The landing was quickly degrading in just the few hours I was there...landing on east lake is worse. Only caught 5 crappies. Schools were scattered and on the move, and fish weren’t very active. Ice was about 32 inches, which made hole hopping very difficult with an ion auger. Caught a nice sun burn on my face 
    • IceHawk
      Pike good luck!  Grew up fishing down there as a kid. Every so often I go back down there to relive some good memories  When I was 12 yrs old I use to fish down there with a couple old boys at midnight on opening night. Those old boys treated me as there own Kid!  And  I always thanked them for that  they taught me a lot. Caught a pretty good amount of eyes throwing jointed rapalas back then.  Its been a few years since then the old boys are gone fishing in the big sky above. But boy I still see there faces and smiles in my memory when every I stop down there 
    • delcecchi
      ok, now that I have a phone that takes pics, I'll post some when summer comes. Just call me Dime, cuz I be dropping some.