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State Representative Peter Fischer

201 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-5363

For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875

Posted: Nov 21 2013 11:39AM
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GUEST COLUMN

Cooperation is Key in Restoring White Bear Lake, Preventing Other Water Shortages


One of my top priorities as your voice at our state capitol is to develop a solution that fixes the declining water levels at White Bear Lake and prevents similar problems from occurring at other bodies of water in our region.

More and more people are understanding that White Bear Lake is the “canary in the coal mine” warning us of a larger problem. Unless we act soon, our entire region’s water supply could be at risk.

It’s a problem that has severe consequences not only for our area’s ecosystem, but for our economy as well. Local businesses are taking a hit and property values are declining. That trend will continue if we don’t take steps to address the problem.

That’s why I recently convened a bipartisan group of state lawmakers as well as mayors, county commissioners, the Metropolitan Council, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and other government officials to discuss White Bear Lake and our region’s groundwater management strategy.

It’s the latest step we’ve taken to bring our communities together to proactively gather feedback, listen to people’s questions, and work in a cooperative fashion to find a solution and implement 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 groundwater levels in area aquifers and the loss of water in White Bear Lake. We plan to hold additional meetings over the next year as more information and analysis about the region’s groundwater supply becomes available.

Thanks to the new state budget passed by lawmakers during the 2013 legislative session last Spring, we now have more tools and resources at our disposal to get the information needed to solve the problem.

For example, we appropriated $1.6 million in Fiscal Year 2014 and $6 million in Fiscal Year 2015 to provide additional ground and surface water analysis and increase the reimbursement rate paid to local units of government for monitoring well data.

Those funds will also help improve technology for surface water monitoring, permitting, technical/data analysis, reporting information, and posting information online for the public, and help to monitor surface water in select areas to determine the relationship between aquifers, springs, small tributaries and other wetlands.

In addition, a bill I authored during the 2013 legislative session, now law, allows the DNR to require permits for smaller water users and private wells within the groundwater management area once it’s established. That kind of tool ensures that we treat everyone fairly and that everyone follows the same set of rules.

We know there’s no single silver bullet to fix this growing problem, which is why it’s so important for us to take a long-term, comprehensive, cooperative approach with regular engagement between the public, businesses, local elected officials, and our state government. In the short-term, our top concern remains examining every option at our disposal to stop the decline at White Bear Lake and start restoring the water level.

I’m encouraged by the growing number of people getting involved in the process and remain hopeful that we can find a solution that protects our ecosystem and economy right now and into the future.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together.

I strongly encourage you to get in touch with me with any questions or feedback about our work to ensure a sustainable water supply for our region. You can reach me by phone at (651) 296-5363, by email at rep.peter.fischer@house.mn, or by postal mail 421 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

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