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White Bear Lake Water Level Articles


mallardnwalleye

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As some of you may know White Bear Lake is low because the aquifer is probably being drained through water usage faster than it can recharge.

I have put links below of some recent articles on the lake level issue from a local paper that does a good job of reporting on it.

White Bear Press Lake Article1

Lake Task Force

Lake Wells Testing

My opinion is the only option is to push water conservation until you can set up a long term and probably costly river supply of water via Mississippi- Vadinais, Mississippi, or St Croix for the NE metro (The logistics and cost we know not). Any ideas of pumping water into the lake are a band aid solution that is throwing money out the door. Why?? What if whatever water you pump into the lake goes right out to the aquifer? What about all the other lakes in the Metro being effected by a low aquifer(Turtle, Sunset, Etc...)? What if we have a dry dry period that water couldn't be pumped from B.E. or the Aquifer then we would have spent millions only to see the lake get extremely low?

I say spend the big money to supplant well usage in the E and NE metro with river water. One of 3M's founding fathers L. Ordway once stressed the importantance of "patient money" and taking the long view. I find it ironic that a lake this leader spent a great deal of time on and which has a bar-reef named after him now needs to have the leaders of today heed his sage advice of many years past.

Any thoughts from anyone?

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Mallard,

We have traded thoughts over this subject a couple of times before. I hope that you can spark some creative thinking and some interest in the issue. I have to say that I haven't seen an idea yet that has any legs IMO.

If you assume that you could get past all the hurdles to get river water as part of the solution you have to consider what the results are. Mississippi water won't work as a direct input to WBL. The river water has zeebs, which is why Pleasant and Vadnais are impaired.

I doubt very much that the St. Paul Water Utility would agree to a tap on their system. It could well be a system capacity issue, and it may require some creative thinking about whether downstream systems, governments would raise objections given the low flow issues currently facing the Mississippi system.

This weeks White Bear Press touts the conservation efforts of local municipalities. I haven't had time to compare the data but there was also a piece a while back where Woodbury won some award for their reduction based on higher rates for higher water usage. I don't think the locals on this end of things come close to the Woodbury rates.

I also don't think that the problem is just White Bear and I don't think it's caused only by the folks that live within 2,5 or 10 miles from the lake. Water is down in the Chisago Chain and they certainly don't have the water usage as we do around here.

My thoughts right now are that first we don't know enough about how the underground water systems function. I don't think there is a short term solution that is economically feasible, and any attempt to move water from other sources is going to run into a maelstrom of opposition and regulatory hurdles.

One of the things that does baffle me is what seems to be the lack of push by the people. Way too much foolishness trying to come up with the last few dollars to pay for the study. Then there's a group of business types who have held meetings and tossed around ideas but without any formal authority to do anything.

Finally, the relatively dysfunctional White Bear Lake Conservation District is going to have to play a major role. But they can't even work out minor disputes about where to put docks.

I know you have strong feeling about the WBLCD. I believe there is a need for somebody like it to deal with the issues. The problem I see is that this current outfit needs some major tuneups.

Tom

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I agree with you Tom that a little more studying is needed to define the aquifer problem specifically and with a high degree of proboability.

I am guessing there is enough evidence that the problem is the aquifer and it is at a fairly local level( NE Metro )as the Aquifer has a gradual tilt to the river. I am thinking a hydrologist could define the problem as being "downstream", way "downstream" or "upstream" in the aquifer fairly easily if they haven't done so already.

My thoughts are/were that we have an aquifer problem and one way or another we are going to need to get water from the river for drinking and commercial use in the NE Metro but definitely not not to supply a lake as the water may dribble back out into the aquifer.

I'll say it again we need the long term veiw of "patient money" to build a river sourced drinking water treatment plant for the NE Metro as has been done for St. Paul and Minneapolis. It may cost a lot but just look at how much money people were willing to blow on something as frivolous as a Viking Stadium or a bridge to nowhere over the St.Croix.

We should make sure with a study we solve the problem and then solve it for the long term.

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This article in the White Bear Press indicates that water usage is down in most of the local municipalities. If that is true then it sort of cuts against the seemingly most accepted reason for the lower lake level. It also would make any 'solution' seem less likely to succeed.

http://www.presspubs.com/citizen/news/article_3234a2c6-f2e1-11e1-83fc-0019bb2963f4.html

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Tom, The water pumping rates are down in the short term only (2007 until now) they are rising over the long run and remain above pre 2003 levels. Here is a chart showing the BIG PICTURE

full-40472-24515-wblcdmeeting2212012_1.j

There is a problem with the aquifer and aquifer pumping/usage rates and it's pretty obvious if we are going to see growth in the area that usage will go up.

I think it's time to fix the problem.

On a side note: The WBLCD and White Bear Lake Homeowners Association were leaders in pushing for the USGS study in the begining. The DNR was not. The DNR is responsible for the permitting of ground water pumping. The Met council is responsible for growth planning in the area. I think those agencies have an aquifer problem that needs fixing. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out with the lake interests, development interests, the DNR, The Met council, The cities and the counties.

The important thing is that it is all transparent for the public to see.

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The above chart converted poorly so

- USGS White Bear Study Here is the link to the study. The chart is on page 17 of the pdf.

Again, water usage rates from the aquifer have risen substantially over the long term.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another article Strib White Bear Lake Article

I like all the wacko ideas of pumping water from wastewater treatment plants or pumping the Mississippi river water into the lake.

It seems if you are going to spend all that money to pump to a lake and you have an area wide problem with the aquifer you should just solve the big problem by using the Mississippi River for municipal water in the NE Metro.

What is funny is that the second USGS study that could get some better answers instead of all of our guesses isn't being funded..??

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Groundwater is less susceptible to contamination and varience in water quality, therefore, groundwater requires significantly less treatment cost than surface water. A treatment facility like Minneapolis uses (ultramembrane filtration) to turn Mississippi river water into drinking water is much more expensive to build maintain than the groundwater treatment plants that most suburban communities utilize. Hopefully, a financial reality doesn't lead to the disappearance of a fantastic lake.

To jump topics, I wonder if the zebra mussel infestations may inadvertently help the situation some as they purify surface water to a large degree. The surface water drawn from Vadnais should, in theory see a decrease in organic contaminants and episodes of increased biotic contamination.

Drinking water is my work, so I am fascinated by this stuff. I would love to see St Paul's raw (pre-treatment) testing history before zebra mussels were found and compare with data retrieved once the mussels were present.

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Groundwater is less susceptible to contamination and varience in water quality, therefore, groundwater requires significantly less treatment cost than surface water. A treatment facility like Minneapolis uses (ultramembrane filtration) to turn Mississippi river water into drinking water is much more expensive to build maintain than the groundwater treatment plants that most suburban communities utilize. Hopefully, a financial reality doesn't lead to the disappearance of a fantastic lake.

I think they kinda sorta have to face the financial reality.

I think our priorities are a little messed up when we put a 1 billion dollar football stadium ahead of water supplies and our Lakes.

Maybe they could retrofit exsisting wells to go to the deeper Ironton aquifers?

Maybe that wouldn't matter as the water would just go out to the shallow Prairie Du Chein aquifer?

Maybe pumping water directly into the lake(s)from somewhere else won't help as again the water just runs out to the Praire Du Chein Aquifer?

Maybe the only solution is for the NE area of the aquifer to go up through conservation and supplementation of another water source?

What would it cost and is it even feasible to pump and treat from the river?

It seems to me you would want some of these questions and more answered with a study. It seems you may want to do it quickly.

It seems no one is.

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I grew up in WBL. During the sixties there was always water being pumped in via the pumphouses at the boat landing by the bridge to the island. Were these pumphouses pumping out of the aquifer ? Because they were always running I mean pumping from like 12 or 16 inch pipes. I don't no when they quit this but was always amazed at how much water was being pumped into the lake.Maybe that had somthing to do with why there is no water left. Just my take on it.

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Here is the easy answer. Build a pipeline, or better yet, a river from Devils Lake North Dakota to White Bear. DL is at approx 1446' above sea level, and WB is at approx 930', it's would be a natural flow! It's a win-win, they have to much water and we don't have enough.

I'm kidding of course, and I don't know the answer, but being a WB resdent I'd like to see the lake come up but Idon't know if it's worth the cost they are talking about.

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I grew up in WBL. During the sixties there was always water being pumped in via the pumphouses at the boat landing by the bridge to the island. Were these pumphouses pumping out of the aquifer ? Because they were always running I mean pumping from like 12 or 16 inch pipes. I don't no when they quit this but was always amazed at how much water was being pumped into the lake.Maybe that had somthing to do with why there is no water left. Just my take on it.

They shut that pump off in the 1980's or 90's as I remember.

I believe during the water level hullabaloo the DNR said the water just falls down to the aquifer so it is kind of pointless to use.

Which kind of makes you realize that the problem may have to be solved from the bottom up. Meaning you fill the lake higher by filling the aquifer around it up and not just by pouring water into the lake as it will just leek out to the aquifer that you haven't raised.

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Here is the easy answer. Build a pipeline, or better yet, a river from Devils Lake North Dakota to White Bear. DL is at approx 1446' above sea level, and WB is at approx 930', it's would be a natural flow! It's a win-win, they have to much water and we don't have enough.

I'm kidding of course, and I don't know the answer, but being a WB resdent I'd like to see the lake come up but Idon't know if it's worth the cost they are talking about.

I remember when Devils Lake was salty and low low in the early 90's.

Now it's 10+ miles away from that old shoreline.

White Bear Lake

As far as cost?-whatever it costs to fix White Bear Lake will pale in comparison to the lawsuits the lakeshore owners are going to pin on whomever is responsible for the lakes level not being what it would be.

There is a saying "whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting".

Nowhere is that more apparant than on WBL where there is usually more than a few dock disputes in court at a time.

These folks won't "take it laying down" I guarantee it.

I personally am not affected by the lake level as I just fish in the lake and kind of enjoy the lack of use.

It will be interesting to see how the problem is solved or not solved.

Whatever happens it sure makes for a great local drama.

Here is a better illustration of pumping rates around the area showing why WBL is down:

full-40472-25139-waterusagerates.png

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This article talks about a study dealing with water issues in the TC urban Mississippi. It raises some interesting points about water volume and pollution. A bit off the subject of this thread but still useful info. Download the report and spend some time on it.

http://www.minnpost.com/earth-journal/20...tm_medium=email

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  • 3 weeks later...

See link for another interesting article on the lake.

White Bear Lake Hits Record Low

Interesting stuff- Record low levels,lawsuits with the state,self appointed task forces, meetings at the yacht club, quotes of "natural disaster" "the lake is dying"- all more wonderful drama.

I just want to know if they are going to fill the lake up from the aquifer up or attempt to put water in from the top and possibly-maybe? watch it trckle down and out.

Why don't they just get the second USGS study done and start taking the measures the hydrologists recomend for now??

Anyone have anything more on all of this or want to add something?

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I went to a presentation by Paul Chapin last night about Bald Eagle Lake. He had a number of pictures from the early 30's showing low water levels where I would say 10-30 feet of 'lake bed' was out of the water. Paul said that people were growing vegetables out in those areas. He had another image that showed a horse drawn device that was being used to dredge out the lake bottom and said a lot of that was done on the SW portion of the shoreline.

It would be interesting to see a yearly water level detail for both Bald Eagle and WBL for the 20's to 40's. One would suspect that if Bald Eagle was down then WBL would have been like it is currently. If it wasn't then I would think it would add a lot to the aquifer issue that currently is in vogue.

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I went to a presentation by Paul Chapin last night about Bald Eagle Lake. He had a number of pictures from the early 30's showing low water levels where I would say 10-30 feet of 'lake bed' was out of the water. Paul said that people were growing vegetables out in those areas. He had another image that showed a horse drawn device that was being used to dredge out the lake bottom and said a lot of that was done on the SW portion of the shoreline.

It would be interesting to see a yearly water level detail for both Bald Eagle and WBL for the 20's to 40's. One would suspect that if Bald Eagle was down then WBL would have been like it is currently. If it wasn't then I would think it would add a lot to the aquifer issue that currently is in vogue.

Bald Eagle is a drainage lake that gets most of it's water from inflowing creeks and ditches. White Bear is Spring Fed or actually Aquifer fed. They are two completely different animals. White Bear was low in the 20's and 30's but not as low as it is now.

I personally don't think the lake level is a "natural disaster" or that the "the lake is dying". I think a better explanation is that the slices of pies for the lakeshore owners is getting smaller and they are in a panic about it. I do think it is a long term problem that does need to be solved as it will only get worse.

The USGS study clearly shows a statistically significant change in the relationship between precipitation and lake levels satrting in 2003. The theory that the lake is low because of a lack of precipitation .....just doesn't hold any water.

As to call the aquifer issue "vouge" is kinda like calling cigarette smoking and lung cancer's association "a vouge idea".

The USGS is quite confident that aquifer depletion is the problem with the lake level.

The aquifer issue is a large encompassing problem in the NE Metro as it effects lake levels, planned growth, current water usage, and large scale infrastructure changes.

It's funny as the aquifer problem reminds me of many problems I see at work and other places day to day.

Some people will say there is no problem.

Some people will acknowledge there is a problem but won't do anything about it.

Some people will look to point the finger and find out who is to blame for the problem.

Some people will look for the cheapest fix that helps their interest the most.

Some people will look to solve the problem once and for all.

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I went to a presentation by Paul Chapin last night about Bald Eagle Lake. He had a number of pictures from the early 30's showing low water levels where I would say 10-30 feet of 'lake bed' was out of the water. Paul said that people were growing vegetables out in those areas. He had another image that showed a horse drawn device that was being used to dredge out the lake bottom and said a lot of that was done on the SW portion of the shoreline.

It would be interesting to see a yearly water level detail for both Bald Eagle and WBL for the 20's to 40's. One would suspect that if Bald Eagle was down then WBL would have been like it is currently. If it wasn't then I would think it would add a lot to the aquifer issue that currently is in vogue.

My understanding from a close connection on the conservation district is that the aquifer is the problem.

I don't know what help new research may offer. I think establishing a number of solutions and then resolving which ones are most feasible and effective at any of the proposed problems should be the focus.

I'm not convinced it is time to act, however, I think focusing our time on anything but a solution is worthless. And it may be impossible to solve the problem, but that should be the end goal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My understanding from a close connection on the conservation district is that the aquifer is the problem.

I don't know what help new research may offer. I think establishing a number of solutions and then resolving which ones are most feasible and effective at any of the proposed problems should be the focus.

I'm not convinced it is time to act, however, I think focusing our time on anything but a solution is worthless. And it may be impossible to solve the problem, but that should be the end goal.

I think the new research could establish a seepage rate- how fast water is flowing into and out of White Bear Lake. It could also find the relationship in seepage between the shallow and deep aquifers.

It might be able to tell you that you could pump water from a deeper aquifer into the lake and it would work. It might tell you that taking water for munincipal consumption from a deeper aquifer won't effect the shallow aquifer that some metro lakes are connected to for their water supplies. The study might also tell you that none of the above is true.

It will give us a blueprint of the lakes and aquifers so we can make a economical rational decision on what to do now and in the future.

Now you would usually want a plumber to look to see what your leaking problem really is before you would want him to just start trying things until it's fixed.

Unless that is you were in a big hurry and spending other people's money.

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U.S.G.S. hydrologist Perry Jones will present results of two-year study of low water levels on White Bear Lake at a community meeting 6:30-7:45 p.m. Thursday, November 15 at Wildwood Library, 763 Stillwater Road, Mahtomedi. The public is invited.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I went to the meeting. It was standing room only and the average age of those at the meeting was about 70. It was a rerun of the previous presentation but I did learn two new things.

First was my wondering if the aquifer was like a big wok that went all the way to Missouri, and then wondering if it wasn't someone in Cedar Rapids that was using too much water. Mr. Jones explained that the wok idea wasn't too far off, but that all the water in the aquifer from up here stops at the Mississippi River. So the drawdown that is affecting our area is from our area.

The second thing was while talking about possible solutions Mr.Jones mentioned three times that the continued use of a metro wide sewer treatment system results in incredible amounts of water being sent to Pigs Eye, cleaned, and then discharged in the river and out of our use. I believe he was tossing an idea out for consideration, not advocating it.

He said time and again that it is a regional problem that will require regional cooperation and a regional solution.

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I went to the meeting. It was standing room only and the average age of those at the meeting was about 70. It was a rerun of the previous presentation but I did learn two new things.

First was my wondering if the aquifer was like a big wok that went all the way to Missouri, and then wondering if it wasn't someone in Cedar Rapids that was using too much water. Mr. Jones explained that the wok idea wasn't too far off, but that all the water in the aquifer from up here stops at the Mississippi River. So the drawdown that is affecting our area is from our area.

The second thing was while talking about possible solutions Mr.Jones mentioned three times that the continued use of a metro wide sewer treatment system results in incredible amounts of water being sent to Pigs Eye, cleaned, and then discharged in the river and out of our use. I believe he was tossing an idea out for consideration, not advocating it.

He said time and again that it is a regional problem that will require regional cooperation and a regional solution.

Good to hear you went Tom. I wish i could have made it but i had my kids birthday and party that day so didn't.

What are the specific ideas with the waste water? Treat it and pump it uphill to ag land and green areas.? I wonder How could they replenish the aquifer with treated water specifically?

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Here is another White Bear Press article. I am not so sure that having the White Bear Lake Conservation District Board make the appointments is optimal. I also see that the group is expected to come up with recommendations on things that are complex and expensive and yet there is no money or staff to do the research or gather the material. I suspect it will take a long time to come up with anything useful.

http://www.presspubs.com/white_bear/news/article_0efa23fc-3365-11e2-aaf1-0019bb2963f4.html

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  • 2 weeks later...

White Bear Water Woes

Here is the latest on a lawsuit that demands the DNR fix the aquifer to help potentially solve The lake's water level problem. I think it is the best step forward as it asks the problem to be fixed by restoring the aquifer not pumping water into the lake which may erode the seeps to the aquifer causing it to potentially seep-drain quicker.

It is the best step forward as it asks not for $$ but for the problem to be fixed.

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There was an editorial in last week's White Bear Press about the lawsuit filed by some area residents. I agree with what the writer says. I also think that at least two of the proponents of the lawsuit are pretty self serving people who want publicity and to throw their weight around. Not so sure as the writer that the suit will hold things back years because of the fear involved in litigation, but I think she makes some very good points.

http://www.presspubs.com/citizen/opinion/columns/article_c83a9446-3fea-11e2-b8e8-0019bb2963f4.html

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There was an editorial in last week's White Bear Press about the lawsuit filed by some area residents. I agree with what the writer says. I also think that at least two of the proponents of the lawsuit are pretty self serving people who want publicity and to throw their weight around.

http://www.presspubs.com/citizen/opinion/columns/article_c83a9446-3fea-11e2-b8e8-0019bb2963f4.html

Tom, I kinda sorta have to disagree with you. I am a aquanted with one of the people in the suit and can tell you only good things about them. I think you/we all need to stick to the issue of the lake water level and not the people. I may disagree strongly with someone or a group on an issue but I can and should still have respect for them as people. We need to discuss the issue not the people. We are all selfish when it comes to the lake and whether you are a fisherman like myself, a sailor, a boater, a businessman, or a lake home owner you see things from your own specific eye of interest. I think it's important to debate and argue about the fairness of managing the lake between each interest group but we should never be personal about anyone in them as that is crossing a line.

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