Officials preparing for spring floods in the area
MONTEVIDEO -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began its spring drawdown of the Marsh Lake and Lac qui Parle reservoirs on March 1 to prepare for the possibility of spring flooding.
Due to the potential for flooding, this season's drawdown calls for lowering the reservoirs the maximum possible, according to Shannon Bauer with the St. Paul district office of the Corps of Engineers.
The drawdown is expected to continue through March 15 to reach the desired elevation, she said.
The Corps of Engineers is gearing up for expected flood fights in the Upper Minnesota River and Red River of the North basins.
Like the communities in the upper Minnesota River basin, Bauer said the Corps is paying close attention to National Weather Forecast flood projections to determine what level of response will be needed. The National Weather Service will be issuing a new flood forecast today.
Officials in Montevideo and Granite Falls said they are preparing for the possibility that the forecast will increase the possibility of moderate to major flooding. Steve Jones, city manger of Montevideo, said the city is preparing at this point to see water levels somewhere between those experienced in the floods of 1997 and 2001.
Staff members with the Corps of Engineers have been meeting with officials in both of the river communities to prepare for a flood flight. Sandbags have been lined up and engineers have looked at what type of earthen dikes and other emergency measures might be needed.
Staff is expected to be on-site in the Upper Minnesota River communities during the week of March 15 to begin coordinating any emergency measures needed, according to Bauer.
The reservoir drawdown will increase the storage capacity, but the Upper Minnesota system is not designed or large enough to mitigate large flood events. The maximum discharge for the dam at Lac qui Parle is 35,000 cubic feet per second. During the flood of April 1997, discharge levels were more than 43,000 cubic feet per second.