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West McDonald Lake Ass'n v. Minn. Dep't of Nat. Res.

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20080
Nos. A16-1469, (Minn. Ct. App., 06/19/2017)

A Minnesota appeals court held that the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) erred by not obtaining a federal permit for a construction project that affected a lake's water level. Hoffman Lake and West McDonald Lake are separated by a strip of land less than 10 feet wide. In 2015, a Hoffman Lake (HLA) homeowners' association petitioned DNR to lower an outlet channel between the two lakes to four feet. DNR granted the permit in 2016. The West McDonald Lake (WMLA) homeowners' association challenged the issuance of the permit. WMLA argued that DNR violated state law by issuing the permit solely to satisfy HLA private interests, and violated existing state regulation and the CWA by issuing the permit without first obtaining an NPDES permit. DNR concluded that a NPDES permit was not needed. The court ruled that because the project would transfer pollutants from one lake to the other, the federal permit was required.