ST. PAUL, Minn. – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, continues managing its reservoirs to reduce flood threats to communities in the Upper Midwest.
Corps officials are actively working in several river basins to minimize flood impacts caused by the winter snowmelt and spring rain. With additional rain in the forecast, it is too early to estimate when river and reservoir levels might return to normal.
At White Rock Dam, which regulates Mud Lake’s elevation near Wheaton, Minnesota, water level managers are releasing at the rate of 1,900 cubic feet per second. Mud Lake’s elevation is currently approximately 980 feet. Approximately 7 miles upstream at Reservation Dam, which regulates Lake Traverse’s elevation is approximately 980.5 feet. The system was carefully balanced between the second snowmelt and subsequent rain and the first snowmelt.
Reservoir levels in the Mississippi River Headwaters in Minnesota are also high. The Corps is currently managing its Leech Lake, near Federal Dam, and Lake Winnibigoshish, near Deer River, reservoirs at minimum outflows to reduce downstream flood threats. In addition to the Leech and Winnibigoshish reservoirs, Pokegama Lake, near Grand Rapids, is being managed in consideration to the river stage at Aitkin, and in accordance with the water control manual. Both Pokegama Lake and Big Sandy Lake, near McGregor, are also above normal summer levels. Corps officials anticipate a slow recession toward normal summer operating levels.
The Mississippi River south of the Twin Cities is high, too. The Corps is currently operating the river in an open river state. This means that the dam gates are removed from the water and the river is acting like it would without the lock and dam system in place. Corps officials do this when there is enough water to maintain the Congressionally mandated 9-foot navigation channel. The lock and dam system is not designed to reduce flood risk. It was developed exclusively to maintain the needed water depths for navigation.
The Minnesota River has also seen two waves of high water with the two melts. The Marsh Lake and Lac qui Parle reservoirs remain above their emergency spillways, as designed, and are expected to remain above for quite a while.
Release no. 19-032