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Despite Wet Spring, White Bear Lake Still Down 4 Ft.

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We had above average rainfall in May, causing some Twin Cities lakes to overflow.

There was hope that the rain would help White Bear Lake. The water level was down 6 feet last year — the lowest it has ever been.

And now after the wet spring, White Bear Lake is still down about 4 feet. Home and business owners say that’s far below what it should be.

“We used to launch 100 boats a weekend, 150 on the holidays,” said Brian McGoldrick, the owner of Admiral D’s Waterfront Tavern. “We’ve done none this year.”

McGoldrick can remember a time when he had 25 boat slips right in front of the tavern with a waiting list. But as the lake level dropped, so did business.

“Look at our fishing pier over there,” McGoldrick said on Friday. “You have a better chance of kissing Jesus than catching a fish off of that dock.”

Weeds now grow where the lake once was. This spring’s rain has helped a little, but McGoldrick and others say not nearly enough.

The United States Groundwater Survey says billions of gallons of well water are being pumped out of the lake’s aquifer faster than the lake can keep up.

The homeowner’s association has filed a lawsuit against the DNR, with the hope that they’ll slow down what’s being taken from the aquifer, and bring in more water from the Mississippi River.

“There’s a real possibility that if we don’t fix the lake it will be irreparable,” said Jim Markoe, president of the White Bear Lake Homeowner’s Association. “There will be permanent damage.”

While the DNR won’t comment on the lawsuit, officials say the problem lies with the lake’s watershed. It’s 2,300 acres compared to Lake Minnetonka’s, which is more than 83,000 acres. That’s about 37 times greater.

But McGoldrick isn’t buying it, and he’s worried that business around the lake is drying up.

“To watch this unfold the way it has the past 10 years, it shouldn’t happen here,” he said. “It shouldn’t happen anywhere.”

McGoldrick says business is one thing, recreation is another.

He and others say a generation of kids has not been able to enjoy the Ramsey County beach.

Markoe said his kids are the 6th generation in his family, and the first not to have beach access.

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