A seriously big price tag for restoring White Bear Lake

Now this is what you call a water bill. Jim Anderson of the Strib says, “Three potential solutions aimed at restoring water levels of White Bear Lake — two of them estimated to cost more than $600 million — are being proposed in what could be part of sweeping changes in how cities in the metro area get their drinking water. In a draft report released Wednesday, the Metropolitan Council outlined options for augmenting White Bear Lake with water from the Mississippi River.”

Elsewhere: Paul Huttner at MPR reports, “The level of Lake Minnetonka has fallen below the magical 930.30′ level for the first time since May 31. The latest reading from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District as of Wednesday is 930.25 feet above sea level. … If big west metro lake stays below 930.30′ for another two days, the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District will lift at least part of the no-wake restrictions for the lake.”

Also in nature: Marissa Payne at the Washington Post picks up on the Audubon Society’s campaign to get the Vikings to install bird-friendly glass on their new palace. “In a news release, the organization notes that up to 988 million birds are killed annually in the United States because of collisions with buildings, and especially glass windows.” Ok. How did they come up with that number?

And … The DNR is going “conservative” on deer. Says the AP: “Hunters will be allowed to shoot only one deer across 95 percent of the state, the Department of Natural Resources said, and the harvest of does will be further restricted. Most of Northeastern Minnesota will be bucks only.”

As if. Frederick Melo’s PiPress story says, “After weeks of sometimes testy back-and-forth, Mayor Chris Coleman’s $2.5 million proposal to repair some of the most heavily used, pockmarked roads in the city won 5-0 approval Wednesday from the council. As a result, 11 of the city’s ‘Terrible 20’ most broken streets will be redone with mill and overlay work before the dead of winter.” What then for the “Almost as Terrible 2,000”?

Who out there said, “Beloved”? Melo again, this time on the city’s deal with Comcast. “The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday voted 5-0 to extend the existing cable franchise agreement held by Comcast until Dec. 31. The city, which first entered into the wide-ranging agreement with the company in July 1998, has been negotiating a new contract for roughly three years. … In April, Comcast announced it would likely spin Minnesota customers off into a new cable company to reduce debt and appease federal regulators scrutinizing its proposed takeover of Time-Warner Cable.”

The GleanAnother sign of upticking in the real estate market. Stribber Jim Buchta says, “In May, just 2.37 percent of all homeowners were more than 90 days late on their payments, nearly a full percentage point lower than last year, according to a report Wednesday from CoreLogic. Not only are delinquencies far below the U.S. average of 4.44 percent, foreclosure rates are declining to pre-recession levels.”

Hmmm. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib writes, “Last year, Gov. Mark Dayton earned $352,601, a little less than half of which came from capital gains, according to tax returns he released on Wednesday. The DFL governor, who has released his tax returns every year since 2010, gave $10,000 to charity and paid $76,008 in federal taxes and $29,932 in state taxes, for an effective tax rate of 30 percent.” 

There’ll be plenty of drivers trying to draft in behind if this goes through. MPR’s Curtis Gilbert: “St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman says he’s open to giving Green Line light rail trains more power over traffic lights at smaller intersections along University Avenue. The change could speed travel times on the new transit line, which currently takes an average of 53 minutes to get from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis — 5 minutes longer than Metro Transit predicted when the line opened last month.”

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Job creation — from Colorado: City Pages’ pot-watcher Jesse Marx says, “They won’t say who, but the American Cannabis Company is counseling a group of ‘Minnesota-based entrepreneurs’ who want to become manufacturers of the new state-sanctioned medicine. ACC got off the ground last year in Colorado, working with local applicants, but has since expanded to include clients across the U.S. and as far as the eastern seaboard of Canada. Trent Woloveck, the company COO, says his team will be tasked with meeting Minnesota regulatory standards while ‘bringing what our best practices are from these more mature markets.’” Whatever that means.

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by jody rooney on 07/24/2014 - 11:21 am.

    White Bear Lake solution is a misnomer

    I think a better title for the report would be addressing long term water supply problems north and east of St. Paul.

    As someone who has lived in this area for a long time this seems like a good idea. Groundwater should never be the first choice of communities where high use is expected when there are viable surface water options.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 07/24/2014 - 01:40 pm.

      Long term water use patterns, not just “supply”, is the…

      …key public policy issue here.

      Also, while I sympathize with the WBL lake frontage owners whose property values have gone down from $1.2 million to $700,000, it is not up to the rest of us to make them whole, as there was never any guarantee of a nice water border to maintain their property values which the public made to them nor owes them.

      Water issues are not just in the metro area, either. Over the whole country, agricultural uses dominate. Last week, I drove up north and watched many, many irrigation rigs spraying huge volumes of water into the air over the fields, much of which evaporates before it even hits the ground. This kind of wasteful use is possible because permits to use for agricultural purposes are so easy to get and the cost of the water is not nothing, but pretty darn close – e.g., on the DNR site, the fee schedule’s top bracket of usage (above 500 million gallons) shows a cost of $8 per million. What is there to restrain our use of water in such a system ?? What are we doing to conserve the resource ??

      It’s worth spending the time and money to get this right, but it’s not just White Bear nor those northern communities and it’s not just about how can we supply them with all the water they want. We need to slowly teach people to prize our public resource of water.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/24/2014 - 12:34 pm.

    Geography

    Having just returned from 10 days in the Centennial State, I see that Minnesota is finding itself in the position that’s been occupied for many years by states west of the 100th Meridian. Can’t argue with Jody Rooney – groundwater should absolutely be the last resort – but diversion of Mississippi water to prop up the property values of lakefront homeowners strikes me as, first, shortsighted, but more importantly, a portent of things to come. ‘Twould appear that, even in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, water supplies are not inexhaustible, and that is going to be a lengthy and painful lesson for Minnesotans to learn. It also seems likely to be expensive, which is part of why “painful” is appropriate.

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