Businesses located near White Bear Lake are conserving water in an effort aimed at helping the lake's water levels recover.
The lake dropped six feet from 2003 to 2011, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which published a study on the lake earlier this year. Besides drought, the study showed the amount of water being pumped from the aquifer below the lake has doubled since 1980.
White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce President Scott Mueller said a group of local leaders concerned about the lake came up with six options for restoring the lake. Conservation was the one solution that didn't require expensive changes to infrastructure, he said.
"When you start talking about conservation, it's not really very exciting. And everybody always thinks, well if I conserve but my neighbor doesn't, then what I do is just a drop in the bucket. However, if you can get a bunch of businesses that band together that start to really do something extraordinary to conserve water, then that bucket starts to fill much more," he told The Daily Circuit.
Area businesses can take steps such as installing efficient faucets, using moisture sensors to avoid over-watering of grass and flowers, using a broom to sweep sidewalks instead of a hose and setting up rainwater collection barrels to water plants. Businesses who adopt at least four water conservation practices can display a special sign that says, "Doing our part, saving the lake."
Mueller said vehicles at his funeral home business are washed in St. Paul, which gets water from the Mississippi River.
A wet spring helped White Bear Lake's water levels improve by about 2 feet, but USGS hydrologist Perry Jones said it isn't back to normal.
"It's still down low and it needs to recover," he said.