St. Paul, MN—The Minnesota House of Representatives passed legislation putting a one-year delay on enforcing groundwater permit restrictions that were court-ordered in the White Bear Lake homeowner lawsuit decided in August, 2017. The legislation gives temporary relief to municipalities affected by the court orders because of their overreaching, confusing, and inadvertently perverse nature.
"The judge in this case imposed far-reaching and onerous water restrictions on cities within an arbitrary 5-mile radius of White Bear Lake. Policy-making is the job of the legislative and executive branch and the judge's orders are, in effect, policy created without debate, without hearings or public input," said Rep. Runbeck. "I am grateful for my colleagues' support on this very important issue that impacts those living near and around White Bear Lake. I look forward to continuing our work with the DNR to ensure we come to a solution that works for all interested parties and stakeholders.”
The court order imposed restrictions on the cities of Hugo, Lake Elmo, Lino Lakes, Mahtomedi, North St. Paul, Oakdale, Stillwater, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake and White Bear Township. In addition, it drew in those suburbs which receive their water from the St. Paul Regional Water Services. The orders prohibited the DNR from issuing new or expanded groundwater appropriations until it could be determined that these new uses were sustainable for future generations.
Also included in the court orders are an irrigation (lawn-watering) ban until the lake level reaches 924 feet; a residential per capita daily limit of 75 gallons and a total per capita daily limit of 90 gallons which included commercial and industrial users; and a requirement that each city develop a contingency plan to convert their water supply from groundwater to surface water (costs estimated to be over $600 million).
Language addressing the court order was included in the Senate’s omnibus supplemental appropriations bill, SF 3141, that was approved last week.