When the level of White Bear Lake dropped so low that docks didn’t reach the water, few Stillwater residents had any idea that the DNR would be ordered to restrict their use of water to help replenish the lake.
But on August 30, 2017, Ramsey County Judge Margaret Marrinan ordered that
the DNR, through the use of Water Appropriation Permits issued to Cities, begin restricting municipal water use from any municipal well located within a 5-mile radius of White Bear Lake.
According to TKDA Engineer Matt Ellingson, who represents the Stillwater Water Board, Stillwater’s Well 11 – the city’s western-most well – resides approximately 4.99 miles from White Bear Lake.
The Stillwater Board of Water Commissioners, which oversees the Water Board, contends that recent studies conducted by TKDA indicate Stillwater Well 11 pumps water from an aquifer plume that flows east toward the St. Croix River, not west toward White Bear Lake, and thus should not be included in the
White Bear Lake ruling.
The Board unanimously voted at its March 23 meeting to request a contested
case hearing with the DNR.
Under the August 30, 2017 ruling the Water Board would have to comply with several amendments to their DNR Water Appropriation Permit, including
- Implementation of a residential watering ban
- Preparation of a plan to reduce per capita water use city-wide
- Preparation of a plan to convert to surface water supplies – likely the St. Croix River – for
drinking water, rather than continued reliance on groundwater
- Participation in an annual report prepared by the 11 affected communities included in the ruling
The Board of Water Commissioners requested a contested case hearing to the DNR on March 30.
The required amendments outlined in the DNR Water Appropriation Permit, and added to the water appropriation permit, will not be put into effect until after the completion of the contested case hearing process.