White Bear Lake suit highlights balance between environment, commerce

White Bear Lake
The lake bottom is exposed as water levels recede on White Bear Lake in White Bear Lake, Minn., on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012. A group of White Bear Lake residents and business owners are suing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources claiming the agency's practices have contributed to falling levels at the lake north of St. Paul.
AP Photo/The St. Paul Pioneer Press, Ben Garvin

A lawsuit has been filed against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources over the shrinking water levels of White Bear Lake. The water level has declined for years and it's now about 5 feet below normal levels leaving the lake bed exposed.

The citizens group that is suing says the aquifer feeding the lake has been depleted by excessive pumping of water by nearby fast-growing municipalities. They claim the DNR is to blame because they allowed the pumping. The DNR has not commented on the lawsuit.

This battle could be an important test case of how we balance environmental concerns with commerce. Co-director of the University of Minnesota's Water Resources Center, Deborah Swackhamer, joins MPR's Cathy Wurzer to discuss.

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