What’s Happening To White Bear Lake?

WHITE BEAR LAKE (WCCO) — For the past couple of years it’s been a growing mystery: Where’s all the water going in White Bear Lake?

Residents, like Mike Semonick, are getting anxious for answers.

“It’s just strange to come here in June and not see anyone on the beach, barely a boat on the landings at either side of the lake,” said Semonick. “It’s just baffling what’s going on.”

With all the snow melt from deep winter snow and heavy spring rains, other area lakes are over spilling their banks, but not White Bear. The latest reading of 920.35 feet is up only two inches from where it was last spring at this time.

The fact remains that the lake is still three feet below normal.

The nearby Goose Lake, just across the road from White Bear, can’t get much higher. It’s in the same watershed, sitting a mere 100 yards away.

“There’s no change in leakage, no new hole in the bottom of the lake,” said Erik Brenna.

Brenna and fellow University of Minnesota engineering student Joe Fox poured over data from their 3-month study. They were analyzing the data of well water levels and area wetlands, groundwater pumping projects and the area’s historical precipitation.

Fox says their analysis has all but ruled out what many have pointed to, a “micro drought.”

“This time around it seems a drop in precipitation is not the case,” said Fox.

What they discovered and are focused on is that 40 feet under the deepest part of the lake is the combined Jordan and Prairie Du Chien aquifer. They theorize that White Bear has dropped because the aquifer underneath it is also down. To a greater degree than most lakes, White Bear Lake depends on the higher aquifer to keep its water from seeping into the ground.

“There’s the strong possibility of increased pumping from the PDC and Jordan aquifers in the region possibly being the cause of the draw down of the aquifer and lake subsequently,” said Brenna.

More from Bill Hudson
  • Katie R. O'neil

    What is an aquaifer and its use to use? Is aquifers use commonly through out MN? Is this (if aquaifer) fixable/preventable? Thank You Katie O

  • Eyeroll

    The correct word is “pored.” They pored over data, not “poured.”

    Honestly, journalists these days.

  • john

    Its the area beneath the ground where water lies. Most cities drill down to this area and draw water for use by the public. As more folks tap into the local supply and use greater quantities, the aquifers are tasked with producing more water. They are “refilled” by absorbing rain and other sources, in this case, WBL.

    • Geezer

      Thanks Mister -know-it-all!!!!

  • IwonderIf

    this story also fails to mention that the surrounding developments diverts most of the rain water away from the lake as well

    an aquifer is noting but a porous layer of rock under ground that lets ground water seep through it. The water then meets what is called aquicludes which is pretty much a solid layer of rock.. Between these two layers of rock the water collects and forms a sort of underground lake. We then tap into this “lake” via wells for fresh water supply. Aquifers should recharge naturally so long as the demand rate( us using water) doesn’t surpass the recharge rate

    ha guess i did pay attention in envi science in college.. I didnt even have to google this

  • tom

    most lakes that I have seen are down, they are diverting the runoff from the rain away from the lakes, they are just in essence destroying our natural lakes.

    • IwonderIf

      Its a catch 22. Street run off picks up all sorts of contaminants but by not allowing the run off .. well we see what we get….

  • Husout

    Really though… why do we care?? This is the land of 10,000 lakes, find a new one ;-)

    • IwonderIf

      And we wonder why we are in so much trouble?

  • x

    Have all of the pumps that pump water been permenantely turned off?

    Is all of the runoff from near by areas allowed to run into the lake to keep it at the right level?

  • Peggy Rinard

    It’s an excellent story that provides valuable insights into an issue that is a huge concern to the White Bear community. One small language error isn’t sufficient reason to trash “journalists these days.” Sigh. Readers these days….

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