White Bear Lake Restoration Association
Department of Natural Resources of Minnesota

The DNR recognized for years that White Bear Lake levels are tied to the fluctuations in the ground water levels. They rise and fall together. Despite this, the DNR allowed a doubling of its permits since 2003 allowing for groundwater withdrawals. The Lake Association, represented by the Ciresi Conlin partners, including Katie, Mike, Jan and Heather, filed suit against the DNR claiming the DNR breached its obligations to ensure the viability of the lake and aquifers, as required by the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (“MERA”). The Lake Association claimed the DNR breached its MERA obligations by not considering the cumulative impact of its issued groundwater permits and by failing to take any remedial action after recognizing the harm caused to the lake and aquifers. In December 2014, the case settled with a stay of litigation, giving the DNR time to support legislative efforts to fix the problem and allowing for interim conservation measures. If legislative efforts aren’t successful, the case may be back in Court as early as August 2016.