The MPLS STRIB artical about the suit

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Moves to Protect Historic Camp Coldwater
Springs with Request for Legal Injunction Against MnDOT

Recent Test Indicates Springs Flow from Hwy. 55/62 Construction Area; District Seeks Redesign of Interchange Drainage Ponds in Light of Recent State Legislation Protecting the Springs.

MINNEAPOLIS, MIN., May 23, 2001 -- The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) is seeking a temporary legal injunction against the Minnesota Department of Transportation ( MDOT) to temporarily halt construction of the highway 55/62 interchange in order to establish the pattern of groundwater flow from the construction site to Camp Coldwater Springs. The injunction request was filed yesterday.

"Our responsibility as a watershed district is to protect the natural assets of the area," said Pamela Blixt, president of the board of managers of MCWD. "Camp Coldwater Springs is in imminent danger of being altered from the construction of highway drainage ponds which will very realistically
divert spring water by as much as 30-percent or more ."

One of two MCWD dye tracer tests and other investigation of groundwater flow indicate that a significant source of recharge water for the Spring comes from the interchange area where Highway 55 intersects with Highway 62 (the Crosstown). A third dye test was planned for the construction site, but MnDOT won't allow it.

"As a result of one test, we've seen what we've always suspected -- that part of the springs' flow comes from the area of highway construction," said Eric Evenson, MCWD district administrator. " If our last round of tests show that the pending construction of a drainage pond at the intersection of Highways 55 and 62 reveals the same result, then we'll know for certain that MnDOT's current design is flawed.

"But MnDOT won't allow us to do it, that's why we've filed the injunction," Evenson continued. "Ultimately, we'd like the highway department to redesign their drainage ponds - especially in light of the recently enacted state legislation dictating the protection of Camp Coldwater Springs' history and flow. This event is the first challenge to the law." For more information on the legislation see:

Filing for a legal injunction by the District comes after Minnesota Department of Transportation refused to reconsider further tests and its interchange drainage design.

"The MCWD has asked the court to temporarily enjoin MnDOT from any dewatering activity that is interfering with adequate dye testing for a period of four weeks, and from any construction activity that has the effect of permanently lowering the groundwater table in the interchange area, " said Louis Smith of Smith Parker, MCWD's legal counsel.

Camp Coldwater Springs, located at the old Bureau of Mines site near Fort Snelling in south Minneapolis, is considered the birthplace of Minnesota and an important site by some Native Americans. The Camp Coldwater Springs area is a highly unique water resource and network, with a valuable fresh water spring located near Minnehaha Falls and the site of much known -- and
unexplored - Native American and Minnesota settlement history.

The Minnehaha Falls gorge and surrounding Mississippi River bluff is not only the subject of Longfellow's poetry, but also the site of several groundwater-fed seeps and springs, including rare Black Ash seeps, which the Department of Natural Resources classifies as a critical natural area.

For more than 33 years, MCWD has monitored and investigated the lakes and streams that feed Minnehaha Creek across two counties and 29 cities and towns, from the upper watershed North and West of Lake Minnetonka to the Lake itself, through the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, to Minnehaha Creek and Minnehaha Falls. The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, working in
partnership with cities, townships, and citizen groups, has helped to improve the water quality in most of the lakes and streams in the watershed. Recent lake and wetland restoration projects include Gleason Creek, Long Lake, Painter Creek, Twin Lakes/Cedar Lake, Lake Calhoun, Pamela Park, Lake Nokomis and others.

The MCWD designs and builds projects to protect water resources including: lake restoration, wetland enhancement, erosion repair and flood control. The District also coordinates cities, counties, park districts developers, and others within watershed boundaries for compatible and efficient water resource management.

MCWD is run by a volunteer Board of Managers who govern for staggered three-year terms. Six are appointed by Hennepin County and one is appointed by Carver County, with full-time staff and engineering, legal, and financial consultants. The autonomous government body is funded by small additions to property taxes from those households in the District that benefit from water resource management, with occasional interim funding from cities, counties and the state. The District is also funded through special levies.

For more information, or to interview Pam Blixt or Eric Evenson about the lawsuit, please contact Martin Keller at 612-729-8585, or online at

The MPLS STRIB artical about the suit