The pumps have been turned off for the first time in four years at an upscale Uptown apartment building, meaning that the illegal pumping of millions of gallons of groundwater into nearby lakes will cease.
The pumps were turned off late Tuesday afternoon, meeting a deadline of that day set in a legal settlement reached several months ago, according to Charles Nauen, an attorney representing the city of Minneapolis.
The settlement was reached after the city and Park Board filed several suits to end the pumping. Developer Lake and Knox LLC was permitted initially to drain the site at 1800 W. Lake St. for construction. But it kept on pumping after construction ended because the lower of two basement garage floors was below the area's water table. A judge ruled in November ruled that violated city ordinances after the city sued.
Lake and Knox built the 57-unit luxury building in 2011. It consists of developers Nick Walton and Daniel Oberpriller, plus other unnamed investors. They still have financial claims pending against engineering firms that provided studies for the project. Pumps sucked about 90 million gallons per year of water into the nearby lagoon separating Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun, including an estimated 75 pounds per year of algae-feeding phosphorus.
Lara Norkus-Crampton, who opposed zoning variances granted the project and resigned from the planning commission in protest, praised former City Council member Meg Tuthill and park Commissioner Anita Tabb for doggedness in ending the pumping. She also said citizens sometimes have a false sense of security that the many jurisdictions responsible for water quality are monitoring such violations.
Council Member Lisa Goodman, who now represents the area, said in an e-mail: "It’s good to see that the developer is abiding by the consent decree after years of pumping water into the lake. I’m happy to see this part of the larger issue resolved."
To comply with a settlement reached in December to cease pumping by Tuesday, the developers removed mechanical and electrical components from the lower parking level, filled it with sand and gravel, and then sealed it off from remaining basement parking. The firm said that careful fill-in work was crucial to ensuring the building remained stable. It estimated the work would cost $1.2 million, while new parking it plans next door is expected to cost $2 million.