|NEW MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT SCIENTIFIC
DATA REPORT FINDS DIRECT LINK OF 30% DECREASE IN FLOW RATE TO CAMP
COLDWATER SPRINGS FROM HIGHWAY 55/62 INTERCHANGE SITE; NEWS CONFERENCE
AT SPRINGS SLATED FOR TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5 AT 1:30 P.M.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN., FEBRUARY 5, 2002 -- A new scientific data
report from the MinnehahaCreek Watershed District (MCWD) finds a
direct 30-percent reduction in flow rate to Camp Coldwater Springs
from MnDOTs construction of the Highway 55/62 Interchange.
A news conference at the springs is scheduled today at 1:30 p.m.,
featuring Senator Julie Sabo (DFL, District 62) , the sponsor of
the 2001 Camp Coldwater Springs billprotecting the springs history
and flow, MCWD spokespersons and others. Sabo andcompany will release
the new report and question whether MnDOTs attempt to seekrelief
at the legislature this year for the unanimously passed law last
session and signed by Governor Ventura would be prudent in light
of the reports new findings.
Today, with new data over a two-year period of weekly monitoring
from both the highway department and the watershed district, the
rate of groundwater flow at CCSduring December 2000-December 2001
has shown trends of decrease that correspond directly to MnDOT groundwater
pumping, says Pam Blixt, President, MCWD Board of Managers. Between
July and November 2001 -- during continuous pumping -- CCS
flow diminished by more than 30 percent, regardless of whether the
MCWD's or MnDOT's own flow data are used -- and regardless of changes
in rainfall patterns. These are real numbers that underscore the
importance of the law passed last year and an indication that MnDOT
can no longer play loose with data interpretation or potential impacts
to the spring.
The new report reaffirms that without a suitable drainage design
for groundwater flow from the Interchange site to CCS a solution
upheld in Minnesota District Court last fall before MnDOT said it
was terminating its project MnDOT is forcing legislators to choose
between completing a highway project or protecting the springs,
says Senator Sabo. The truth is, in fact, that both can be done
without further waste of taxpayer dollars, impaired safety to motorists
at the interchange, or environmental degradation of what many consider
to be the birthplace of Minnesota.
Many Native American groups also consider the site to be sacred,
a belief reported by Federal Highway Administration officials, Dan
Ghere and Joe Krolak from Chicago and Baltimore respectively, along
with Stanley Graczyk of St. Paul, in a November 16 summary letter
to MnDOT Commissioner Tinklenberg about the springs and the controversy:
The [FHWA -- Federal Highway Administration of Minnesota] Division
has made commitments to the Tribal Governments that the FHWA would
review the project to ensure no adverse effect to Camp Coldwater
Springs. The Division wishes to honor this commitment irregardless
(sic) of any engineering remedy accepted by other parties.
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: 2001
· An original settlement agreement last summer established
that MNDOT and MCWD would work together to find a revised design
for the highway 55/62 interchange that would not impede flow to
Camp Coldwater Springs. This agreement was created under
the guidance of Hennepin County District Judge Knoll last fall after
MCWD litigated against MnDOT over its design of the groundwater
Later, a jointly selected court-ordered -- independent engineering
firm, Shannon & Wilson, found that MNDOT's current interchange
design was indeed flawed. MnDOT estimated that the design recommended
by the independent engineering firm could cost between $4 to $8
million. On August 27, MnDOT filed a legal request asking that it
be released from fulfilling an out-of-court settlement agreement
negotiated earlier this summer with the district.
· On September 18, MnDOT said it was terminating the project
because the current law presented an unobtainable standard and that
it feared citizens lawsuits. Yet such a suit brought last fall by
the nonprofit advocacy group, Friends of Coldwater, was dismissed
by Judge Knoll in December as untimely and redundant, thereby mooting
MnDOTs fears of citizen litigation.
· Concerns that the original Highway 55/62 design initially
proposed by MnDOT would harm the flow of the historic Camp Coldwater
Springs were additionally confirmed by a series of dye tests conducted
last June and during recent tests at the site during dewatering.
The tests showed a connection between the flow of the springs and
part of the spring's recharge area to the southwest, which included
the interchange area, only a quarter mile away from the springs.
FOR A COMPLETE TIMELINE OF THE CONTROVERSY, SEE:
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.
For more information, or to interview key sources, please contact
Martin Keller at612-220-6515 (cell), or 612-729-8585 (office), or
online at firstname.lastname@example.org