The following article by Dylan Thomas was published in the November 5, 2014 on-line edition of the Southwest Journal.
Summary Judgement Announced in 1800 Lake Lawsuit
The city took the apartment building owners to court over groundwater discharge
EAST ISLES — The judge hearing the city’s dispute with the developers of an apartment building discharging millions of gallons of groundwater into the Chain of Lakes has announced a summary judgement, according to Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board attorney Brian Rice.
Rice shared the news at Wednesday’s Park Board hearing. The Park Board joined the lawsuit against Lake and Knox LLC, developer of the 57-unit 1800 Lake building, in January.
Reached for comment, Daniel Oberpriller of Lake and Knox LLC said he hadn’t yet seen the judge’s ruling.
“I just know we are making important headway on a solution,” Oberpriller said, adding that an announcement may come before the end of the week.
1800 Lake, named for its address overlooking Lake Calhoun, opened in October 2011. It includes a two-story underground parking garage that, depending on seasonal fluctuations, lies up to 18 feet below the water table.
Two sump pumps operating continuously since 2011 are necessary to keep the lowest basement level dry. They pump about 170 gallons of water per minute into the city storm sewer, which dumps into the channel connecting Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles.
The warm groundwater prevents ice from forming on part of the channel in the wintertime, creating a nuisance for cross-country skiers and hikers.
The discharge amounts to 89 million gallons of groundwater annually, according to a Barr Engineering aquatic ecologist retained by the city and Park Board in the case. It’s also adding about 75 pounds of phosphorous per year, which contributes to algae growth.
The case was before Hennepin County Judge Philip D. Bush, who ordered a hearing within 30 days for the city’s request for injunctive relief.