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Homeowners, Businesses Sue DNR Over White Bear Lake Issues

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(credit: CBS) Bill Hudson
Bill Hudson has been with WCCO-TV since 1989. The native of Elk Rive...
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WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — One of Minnesota’s premier lakes has been disappearing before our very eyes.

White Bear Lake is now down more than five feet to the lowest level ever seen. And some homeowners and businesses say the DNR is to blame.

They’re suing the agency for allowing too much groundwater to be pumped out of the lake — and for not doing enough to fix it.

On Thursday, a Ramsey County judge gave their lawsuit the green light to go forward.

We’ve been watching the continuing saga of this disappearing lake for years. Sadly, it’s not getting any better.

Brian McGoldrick’s business sits on the shores of this shrinking lake. He’s among the landowners suing the Department of Natural Resources for doing nothing to stop it.

“It’s dropping like a rock because the lake’s tracking the aquifer,” he said. “We had the third wettest May, in June it rained every weekend.”

A recent USGS study found a link between the lake level and a shrinking underground aquifer. The lawsuit contends the DNR is granting groundwater municipal and industrial pumping permits without regard to effects on their lake.

Ramsey County Judge Margaret Marrinan rejected the DNR’s request to have the case dropped on Thursday.

Attorney Jan Conlin represents plaintiffs. She calls White Bear Lake the “canary in the coalmine” when it comes to Minnesota’s water policies.

“The sole purpose of this lawsuit is to fix the lake and to get the DNR to act in a way to protect the lake going forward,” Conlin said. “It’s got to stop, you can’t continue to take six billion gallons out of the ground and send it down to New Orleans.”

The DNR said they respect the judge’s opinion but disagree, moving forward.

Barring an appeal, the case is set for trial next August.

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