Judge refuses to take sides on lawsuit over low water levels at White Bear Lake

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota — A Ramsey County judge has declined to take sides in a lawsuit over White Bear Lake's low water levels, saying the evidence that's been presented so far doesn't lead to a clear conclusion.

A lawsuit filed by a group of White Bear Lake homeowners against the state Department of Natural Resources claims the agency is responsible for the low water levels, Minnesota Public Radio News reported (http://bit.ly/1ezS3sg ). The homeowners said the agency allowed too much groundwater pumping from an aquifer that's connected to the lake.

The agency said weather patterns have caused the plunge in the lake's water line.

"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," Judge Margaret Marrinan wrote in an order issued Friday. "The volume and quality of exhibits and opinions produced by all parties cannot lead the court to any other conclusion."

She has said the homeowners have legal grounds to sue the agency.

The U.S. Geological Survey is continuing to research the relationship between groundwater and White Bear Lake in suburbs east and north of the Twin Cities. Although the water level on White Bear Lake has bounced back by nearly 3 feet from an all-time low set last year, it's still several feet lower than it was a decade ago.

Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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