Because of its large surface area and its small tributary watershed, lake levels in White Bear Lake fluctuate. The impact of lake level changes is magnified because small changes in vertical elevation result in
large changes in the horizontal extent of the lakeshore.
During low water levels, navigation is hindered, and recreation is diminished.
Since 1977, the use of groundwater for lake level augmentation is no longer allowed in Minnesota. The level of White Bear Lake is closely connected with the level of the groundwater aquifer, which means that it is necessary to fill up the aquifer to effectively fill up the lake.
Sunday, May 2, 2010. Clouds bubble and skip over the lake, seemingly full of dust– not water. White Bear Lake is five feet low: a cadet carpet with fresh vacuum lines. The shore line is an open graveyard for croppies and seaweed.
I am running along the lake, slowly now, approaching my fifth mile, pushing forward horizontally with tired lungs. The breeze makes it easy to ignore the sun. A sprinkler is spitting out what the clouds cannot. I am thirsty for water from a spring, water from the sky, living water. Slowly, my own shoreline sprawls forward, and weeds expose. I stumble to keep a steady pace.
Last night I showered with Mountain Spring soap. But as I jog this flat stretch of asphalt, my skin already smells like sea salt, musty maple syrup, the soft skin of a baby’s scalp. The lake water, no matter how “purified” from ground water, cannot mask my scent. Yet, I keep trying, and the lake keeps dying.
I am staggering now along this narrow gravel path. My body is shrinking back to the basics, craving water, food, rest, oxygen. I feel as dry as the dust of the earth, the material of which God shaped me.
Yet I breathe. Unlike the wind I must inhale more than exhale. And unlike God, my breath is not breathing life into anything—only the muscles of my heart.