Water woes: Options laid out for restoring White Bear Lake levels


The dramatic decline in the water levels of White Bear Lake in recent years spurred the Metropolitan Council to look at the long-term water needs of the Twin Cities metro area, particularly the northeastern suburbs.

The Met Council Wednesday released a feasibility study which lays out several options for addressing the problem, with costs that range from $5 million all the way up to $623 million, the Pioneer Press reports.

White Bear Lake has lost one-fourth of its volume over the past decade, the Star Tribune reports, and the shoreline has receded dramatically.

But that's just a symptom of the larger concern over the long-term health of the metro area's primary source of drinking water, the Prairie du Chien-Jordan Aquifer, which is shown in the map below.

About 70 percent of the area gets its water from that aquifer, according to the Star Tribune. Many experts believe the heavy reliance on groundwater from the aquifer is one reason for the receding water levels of White Bear Lake.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey have found that municipal wells were contributing to the drawdown of the lake level.

In 2012 property owners on White Bear Lake argued in a lawsuit that the DNR had mismanaged the groundwater. In September a judge rejected the DNR’s move to have the suit dismissed.

"The lake is a symptom of a problem," Ali Elhassen, water supply manager at the Metropolitan Council, said Wednesday, according to the Pioneer Press.

Elhassan cautions that the rate at which water is being taken from the aquifer is not sustainable over the long term, and if nothing is done the metro area could see water shortages and rationing in the future.

"White Bear Lake is the bellwether," said Elhassan. "It's showing us what will happen elsewhere in the region if we continue current water use practices."

The options laid out in the feasibility study range from piping water from the Mississippi River into White Bear Lake, at a cost of $50 million; to expanding St. Paul's regional water system to reach 13 communities in northern Ramsey County, at a cost of $623 million. Other proposals fall somewhere in between (A detailed breakdown of each alternative is at FOX 9).

Residents can learn more about the study and the various proposals being considered at a community meeting this Thursday at 6 p.m. at Century College in White Bear Lake.

The final report is due in October, and will include more thorough information about the alternatives and how to pay for them, the Pioneer Press reports.

Next Up

Mitch Garver

Garver homers, Twins bats remain cold

The Twins couldn't get going in a 3-1 loss to the Rangers.

Kirill Kaprizov

Golden Knights strike back, overcome Kaprizov heroics

Kaprizov scored twice in the third period but the Wild lost 3-2.

Marcus Foligno

Hockey fight: Foligno steps in after Knights' hit on Kaprizov

All hell broke loose after Nicolas Hague's hit on Kirill Kaprizov.

Governor Tim Walz

Walz will announce timeline 'to end all COVID-19 restrictions'

The details will be revealed in the governor's planned Thursday address.

Associate wearing PPE 2

Amazon to open new facility in St. Cloud this year, creating 'hundreds' of jobs

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis shared the news in his State of the City address this week.

State Patrol

State Patrol: Semi driver kills self after being stopped by troopers

The incident happened Wednesday morning in the Miracle Mile shopping center parking lot in Rochester.

state fair beer

Money Gal: Don't forget the most important items in your budget

Kelly started Money Gal Coaching after paying down more than $46,000 in debt in just 20 months.


Crash kills motorcyclist near Treasure Island casino

The crash took place just before midnight.

The Lunds & Byerlys on Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis, three weeks prior to opening.

New Lunds & Byerlys opens in Minneapolis this month

It's been built in the spot formerly occupied by Bergan's SuperValu.

valleyfair food workers 1

Valleyfair food workers getting a pay raise for 2021 season

The starting wage will increase from $11.25 an hour to $15 an hour.

Screen Shot 2021-05-05 at 11.10.59 AM

Peloton recalls treadmills after child's death, dozens of other injuries

Officials say owners should stop using them immediately.

Screen Shot 2020-05-29 at 6.42.54 AM

St. Paul man gets prison, ordered to pay $12M for burning of 3rd Police Precinct

He was among four Minnesota men charged in connection to the fires at the Third Precinct following George Floyd's murder.