MONTEVIDEO -- Rising waters on the Minnesota River are forcing additional safety measures in Montevideo and Granite Falls this week.
The National Weather Service is forecasting that the river will reach a second crest this week exceeding that experienced last week.
In Montevideo, the Weather Service issued a forecast on Monday for a 20-foot crest to be reached Wednesday.
The rising waters will force the city to shut off sanitary sewer service today to about two dozen homes in the Smith Addition, said City Manager Steve Jones.
He said the city will also be reviewing updated flood forecasts on a day-by-day basis to determine what additional flood protection measures to implement. The city could decide as early as today whether or not to build a temporary clay dike to raise the U.S. Highway 212 levee in the area southeast of the Chippewa County fairgrounds.
The existing highway, which acts as a levee, protects against a 20-foot water level.
The major flood stage in Montevideo is 17.5 feet.
The latest forecast for Granite Falls predicts a crest at 892.8 feet on Thursday. That is within a couple of inches of the crest recorded last year, said City Manager Bill Lavin. The major flood stage is 896.
The water has reached to within an inch or so of the deck on the east side of the pedestrian bridge in the downtown, and it has been closed, Lavin said. He said the city will continue to monitor the situation but does not need to do any additional mobilization against the rising waters at this point.
The rising waters led the Minnesota Department of Transportation to close U.S. Highway 212 between Montevideo and Granite Falls, and Minnesota Highway 67 between Granite Falls and Yellow Medicine County Road 44 on Monday.
It is still possible to reach businesses outside of Montevideo on Highway 212 by using Chippewa County Road 15 and the Montevideo service road near the Southtown Plaza.
Andy Mollenhauer, reached by phone at Duffy's Restaurant on Highway 212, said the business remained open. He said Highway 212 was closed last year but customers continued to rely on the alternative routes. "We were busier than usual,'' he said.
The National Weather Service will be updating its flood forecasts for the Upper Minnesota River Valley daily, and it is possible the second crest could be raised. Diane Cooper, hydrologist with the Weather Service in Chanhassen, said the rising waters this week are mainly being caused by the snowmelt occurring in the northern tributaries to the Minnesota River, such as the Chippewa and Pomme de Terre rivers. Last week's crest saw the greatest volumes from the snowmelt in the southern tributaries.
She said the Minnesota River is likely to remain high through April and into May, and communities will have to be on guard against equal or greater crest levels for several weeks. "We're not done,'' she said.
The snowmelt has also caused a rebound in water levels on Hawk Creek. The rising waters necessitated additional pumping at the wastewater treatment plant in Maynard, but neither Maynard nor Clara City had to mobilize volunteers due to the rising waters.
The ditch that had caused water to pool on the north side of Clara City opened up on Monday, and water levels there actually receded, according to City Administrator Windy Block.
City officials in both communities are monitoring the flows, but are optimistic. The high flow rates of the last two weeks removed the majority of ice, reducing the risk of ice jams.