United States Geological Survey officials prepare to launch the EcoMapper near Mahtomedi Beach Monday, July 11. - Photo by Paul Dols
WHITE BEAR LAKE — A drone submarine was launched into the depths of the lake this week as federal officials hope to discover new leads in an ongoing lake level investigation.
United States Geological Survey (USGS) Hydrologist Perry Jones said the autonomous underwater vehicle arrived in White Bear Lake July 11 along with two specialists from the USGS office in Illinois. The deep water survey is an “add on” to the $200,000 USGS groundwater/surface water interaction study that started this spring.
Jones said the underwater vehicle will cost about $20,000, plus money for an operations boat and manpower. The USGS and a White Bear Lake Homeowners Association donation will split the cost of the tests.
“We want to get as much work time in the water as possible,” said Jones. “We’ll have it in the water all week.”
The underwater vehicle, called an “EcoMapper,” will provide important water temperature readings from the southeast corner of the lake. Lake depth drops to about 80 feet roughly between the Mahtomedi Municipal Beach and the East County Line Road terminus in Birchwood.
USGS officials have interviewed local divers to help locate deep water cold spots. The EcoMapper will be sent to these areas to take temperature readings and collect water samples.
The data will be used to help determine the relationship between White Bear Lake and its underground aquifers.
Officials will operate the five-foot-long, unmanned submarine from a boat using Global Positioning System technology. The vehicle will travel all over the lake bottom.
“Right now we want to do some temperature work and see what we can find out,” said Jones. “It will be all over the lake, not just in the deep water section.”
The USGS is currently compiling well data to determine ground water flows in the northeast suburban area. Officials completed land surface elevations for some 200 wells that were tested this spring.
Jones said he will discuss the first phase of the study with the White Bear Lake Conservation District Board of Supervisors at its July 19 meeting.