MONTEVIDEO - Progress is being measured by inches in Montevideo and Granite Falls, where the Minnesota River remains at flood stage but is on a gradual decline.

In Montevideo, the river has declined from a crest of 21.29 feet on Saturday to 19.4 feet on Wednesday. It's projected to fall to the 18-foot level early next week, after which sewer service could be restored to areas that have been shut down since last week.

In Granite Falls, the river has declined from a crest of 893.52 feet on Saturday to 891 feet, and it is projected to continue a slow but steady decline in the days ahead as well.

The swollen river remains well above its banks in Montevideo, and its waters continued to flow across U.S. Highway 212 at the bridge south of town.

Still, the downward trend is allowing things to return closer to normalcy. It gave Randy Leppke and his staff at Heather Floral and Nursery in Montevideo's Smith Addition the confidence they needed to begin returning plants and items to the business and its two greenhouses.

They had cleared out two greenhouses full of new plantings on March 26 in anticipation of rising waters.

Leppke said they brought the first plants back to the greenhouses Monday. They were planning to continue to return more in the upcoming days. He knows that in just a couple of weeks time, these plants will be going back out the door in the hands of customers.

The greenhouse stayed dry when the river crested, and experienced no damage.

It's pretty much business as usual throughout the Smith Addition. While the sewer remains shut off, electric and gas service is on.

Officials in both communities continue to monitor the river as well as weather forecasts. With the river projected to remain swollen for many days to come, any significant rain events could pose new problems.