White Bear Lake water levels lawsuit heading to trial

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A judge says the evidence presented so far in a lawsuit over White Bear Lake's low water levels doesn't lead to a clear conclusion, so it will head to trial.

A group of White Bear Lake homeowners filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in 2012 saying the DNR is responsible for the lake's low water levels by allowing too much groundwater to be pumped from the lake's aquifers, while the DNR says weather patterns likely caused the lake's water levels to plunge.

Now, Ramsey County District Court Judge Margaret Marrinan says both parties' requests to resolve the case without a trial were denied, the Star Tribune reports. A trial is set for March 2015, KARE 11 says.

In the order, which was issued Aug. 29, Judge Marrinan wrote, "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 in question. ... The volume and quality of exhibits and opinions produced by all parties cannot lead the court to any other conclusion," MPR News reports.

Marrinan has said the White Bear Lake Restoration Association has legal grounds to sue.

Earlier this summer, options were laid out to restore the lake's water levels. The Metropolitan Council released a feasibility study in July, which lays out several options for addressing the problem, with costs that range from $5 million all the way up to $623 million.

Water levels on White Bear Lake have bounced back by nearly 3 feet from the an all-time low set in 2013, but it's still several feet below what it was 10 years ago, reports say.

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