Quantcast
Home / Wire Stories / Judge rules against state in White Bear Lake case
Ramsey County District Judge Margaret Marrinan has ordered the Department of Natural Resources to stop issuing any more well permits within a 5-mile radius of White Bear Lake until it’s certain the drawdowns are sustainable. (File photo)
Ramsey County District Judge Margaret Marrinan has ordered the Department of Natural Resources to stop issuing any more well permits within a 5-mile radius of White Bear Lake until it’s certain the drawdowns are sustainable. (File photo)

Judge rules against state in White Bear Lake case

The state of Minnesota violated environmental law as well as the public trust in failing to protect White Bear Lake and its aquifer, a district judge ruled in a case with broader implications for future suburban development.

Ramsey County District Judge Margaret Marrinan, in a ruling Wednesday, wrote that the state should have done a better job managing area wells to protect the lake’s water level and had allowed excessive pumping of the Prairie du Chien aquifer without knowing whether it was sustainable.

The judge ordered the Department of Natural Resources to stop issuing any more well permits within a 5-mile radius of White Bear Lake until it’s certain the drawdowns are sustainable, the Star Tribune reported.

Marrinan’s ruling also directs the state to ban residential irrigation when White Bear Lake falls below 923.5 feet above sea level and continue the ban until the lake rises to 924 feet.

The lake during the area’s recent drought fell far below that level, reaching 918.5 feet in 2013, although heavy rain since has pushed it higher.

Greg McNeely, a spokesman for the lakeshore owners and area supporters who brought the suit against the state, said the case has wider implications.

“It’s not about White Bear Lake, it’s about how much water we use. It’s not sustainable, and our lake is the canary in the coal mine,” he said.

The Department of Natural Resources issued a statement which said it was “surprised and deeply disappointed.” An appeal was not ruled out.

One comment

  1. As a former DNR water law administrator responsible for the water appropriation permit system, I totally agree with and support Judge Marrinan’s ruling. The DNR’s regulatory philosophy for water appropriation for at least the past 20-years has been “client” oriented, rather than “resource” oriented. The “clients” included: growing municipalities that over-built their groundwater supply infrastructure; commercial & industrial users that wanted to own and control their own water supplies and agricultural irrigators that relied on groundwater to increase their productivity and profitability.

    The DNR has been collecting water use data and substantial reporting fees from permit holders for at least 50 years! Unfortunately, the data was seldom if ever analyzed and incorporated into comprehensive, long-range water use plans or regulations. The reporting fees that were collected were (are) regarded as a reliable source of revenue, but have never been dedicated to managing Minnesota’s water resources.

    The death knell for serious water resource management and regulation came when the DNR eliminated the Division of Waters (which was administered by engineers and geologists since 1937) and placed the future of our water resources in the hands of the game & fish interests that oversee the “new” Division of Ecological & Water Resources.

    It’s truly amazing that a State that is so water-rich has delegated the overall management and regulation of its waters to at least 5 separate Agencies and has never considered establishing a single State agency to conserve, manage, plan and regulate this precious asset.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*