By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — White Bear Lake had been shrinking, but now it’s up five feet from its all-time low in 2013.

Recent heavy rains get some credit for restoring the lake to its highest level since 2005. There is no question the rain has helped, but conservation measures both by individuals and surrounding towns are also getting some credit.

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Either way, the rebound is making a lot of people very happy.

As she played with her grandson, Cory Hankins, who has lived on White Bear Lake for 20 years, could only marvel at the lake levels.

“Oh, I think people are thrilled, people are just thrilled the lake is up,” Hankins said.

The lake’s major beach has been closed for eight years. Now, it’s set to reopen in two weeks.

(credit: CBS)

The word is spreading, too. One couple came from Mahtomedi to look at the lake.

“I think it is great. Yeah, it’s nice to see it up again,” Candace Becker said.

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Just who is to blame for the drastic drop was the subject of a four-week trial earlier this year with a citizens group taking the DNR to court.

The DNR argued that fluctuations in lake levels are normal and they point to the current rebound as proof of that.

The citizens group argued that the DNR is at fault for failing to restrict ground water pumping. The group is asking for a ban on lawn sprinkling in the area.

A decision in that lawsuit is expected sometime this summer.

Many residents and business owners are restricting their water use.

Bill Foussard owns The White Bear Country Inn and Rudy’s Red Eye Grill.

“We used to water everything here, now, we just water the island where the flowers are,” he said.

Foussard says he doesn’t like playing the blame game. Foussard is also chair of the local tourism group Explore White Bear. He just wants everyone to know White Bear Lake is back.

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“It’s come up. So far, it’s exciting. White Bear Lake is a jewel of this area,” he said.

Esme Murphy