For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875
ST. PAUL, MN – Last night, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers gathered with mayors, county commissioners, the Metropolitan Council, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and other government officials to discuss White Bear Lake and the East Metro region’s groundwater management strategy.
With water levels continuing to decline at White Bear Lake and signs showing similar dangers for other bodies of water in the region, Representative Peter Fischer (DFL – Maplewood), Senator Roger Chamberlain (R – Lino Lakes), and Senator Bev Scalze (DFL – Little Canada) brought local officials together for a conversation about what water management means for the region, what the potential impacts and concerns are for area communities, and actively listen to concerns and suggestions for a plan of action going forward.
The meeting took place as the DNR is in the process of establishing a groundwater management area in the East Metro – the first in the state – to address the shrinking ground water levels in area aquifers and the loss of water in White Bear Lake.
“People understand that White Bear Lake is the canary in the coal mine, and unless we act soon, our entire region’s water supply will be at risk,” said Rep. Fischer. “We want to let Minnesotans know that we’re working hard to find a solution. Doing nothing is not an option here.”
"I'm glad we were able to bring together so many key stakeholders for this meeting,” said Senator Chamberlain. “This is an important issue that has been affecting our community for too long. It's crucial that we figure out a long-term solution, and discussions like this are an important part of that process."
“This meeting was a gathering of local government officials that included comments and questions from those who might be affected by changes in ground water and surface water quantity and quality,” said Senator Scalze of the discussion. “It is important to hear from local governments and state experts who are addressing the issues.”
Last night’s meeting marks the latest step state lawmakers, government agencies, and local elected officials are taking to cooperatively address an issue that has grave consequences for the entire region if no action is taken.
“At this point, it’s about listening to people’s concerns and having regular communication with everyone impacted by the situation,” added Rep. Fischer. “As we’re developing a comprehensive strategy to fix the problem, we want to make sure we create solutions that treat all communities fairly. We’re all in this thing together.”
Rep. Fischer expects more meetings like last night’s to take place over the next year as more information and analysis becomes available on the region’s groundwater supply.
During the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers passed a new state budget that appropriates $1,600,000 in FY2014 and $6,000,000 in FY2015 from the General Fund to provide additional ground and surface water analysis, increase the reimbursement rate paid to local units of government for monitoring well data, improve technology for surface water monitoring, permitting, technical/data analysis, reporting information, and posting information online for the public, and monitor surface water in select areas to determine the relationship between aquifers, springs, small tributaries and other wetlands.
Rep. Fischer encourages his constituents to contact him with any questions or feedback about the work being done to ensure sustainable water supplies in the region. He can be reached by phone at (651) 296-5363, by email at email@example.com, or by postal mail at 421 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.