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
"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 --
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
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
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