Judge won’t place blame for White Bear Lake water woes

Receding water levels of White Bear Lake.  Jeffrey Thompson/MPR News

The lawsuit over White Bear Lake’s low water levels will continue after a Ramsey County judge declined to take sides on motions for summary judgment.

A group of White Bear Lake homeowners has asked Judge Margaret Marrinan to find the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at fault for the lake’s low water levels, saying the agency allowed too much groundwater pumping from the aquifer connected to the lake.

But the judge said in an order issued Friday that evidence presented in the case so far does not lead to a clear conclusion.

“Whether the (DNR’s) management of water appropriation permits or its management of this resource actually violated fiduciary duty to the public remains a fact question,” she wrote. “The volume and quality of exhibits and opinions produced by all parties cannot lead the court to any other conclusion.”

While the homeowners cite increases in groundwater pumping of the Prairie du Chien-Jordan aquifer, the DNR has pointed to weather patterns as reason for the lake’s plunging water line.

The judge has said the homeowners have legal grounds to sue.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Geological Survey continues its research on the relationship between groundwater and White Bear Lake in the north and east Twin Cities suburbs.

The water level on White Bear Lake has rebounded by about 2.8 feet from its all-time low set in 2013 but is still down several feet from a decade ago.

Here’s the ruling: