How to save White Bear Lake

  • Article by: JIM MARKOE
  • Updated: May 9, 2014 - 7:19 PM

It’s time to turn to the Mississippi, which has plenty of available water to donate to the cause.

Because of unsustainable groundwater pumping, White Bear Lake has been losing far more water through seepage out of the lake bottom into the aquifer than the lake receives in rain and runoff. In recent years, the lake has lost 25 percent of its water, with no end in sight. If you care about water, please carefully read the following facts.

Fact: We add twice as much water to the Mississippi River as we take out for human use. We pump the water out of our aquifers, and then we put it in the river as treated “wastewater.” Again, we add two gallons for every gallon we take out of the Mississippi.

Fact: Augmentation, the process of bringing filtered water to White Bear Lake from the Mississippi, would both raise the lake level and the underlying aquifer. Every drop of water deposited into our lake either raises the lake level or recharges the aquifer below the lake from which many of us draw our water. Evaporation rates remain unchanged regardless of the water source.

Fact: The practice of recharging an aquifer through a connected lake like White Bear is common in many other states. It will work here, too.

To save White Bear Lake from further decline and irreparable damage, we need to augment the lake. Legislators have been understandably struggling to fund construction of an augmentation system because there is political resistance by those who oppose augmentation or want more than just augmentation alone.

As this political process rolls on for another year, the lake will continue to disappear. Even with average rainfall, it will lose 4 to 6 inches a year. White Bear Lake is one of the most beautiful spring-fed lakes in Minnesota. Sadly, it is becoming a cloudy shadow of the lake we know and love.


Jim Markoe is president of the White Bear Lake Homeowners’ Association.

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