Water levels looking good for the winter

The water level on Rainy Lake may now be sufficient to make for a good spring after the International Joint Commission ordered a further decrease in its outflow in mid-November.
Currently at 336.83 m (roughly 1,105 feet), but still 1.6 feet under the minimum level of the rule curve, Rick Walden, engineering supervisor for the Lake of the Woods Control Board, said yesterday that things are looking up for the lake after being far below its minimum level all summer.
“We’ve closed the gap by about half. The level used to be about three feet under the lower curve during the summer,” he noted.
“Things are looking better than in the late fall,” he added. “It had been continuing to decline in October but levelled off in November with snow and rain. The warm December has caused it to further rise.
“We’re hopeful it will make it back to the IJC band by the end of winter,” Walden remarked.
But he also acknowledged the IJC curve has a slightly lower minimum level during the winter months.
The outflow from Rainy Lake is now at 66 cu. m per second. The normal rate is 103 cu. m per second during the summer.
“We expect the outflow to run this low until the lake gets into the band width. As always, we would be willing to increase it again if the situation gets bad for Emo,” Walden said.
Increased tributary flow and a new, lower intake pipe has curbed Emo’s fear of a water shortage–at least for now, Reeve Brian Reid noted.
“We were concerned with the IJC’s decision to lower the outflow but upon investigation, we found it would be all right,” he said.
But even with the lower intake in the river, which was installed in early November, Reeve Reid hopes this winter will continue to be as mild as it has been.
“We just have to keep our fingers crossed . . . and hope the puddle doesn’t freeze,” he remarked.
The lower intake pipe for Emo’s water treatment plant was a “relatively inexpensive solution,” noted Reeve Reid. But if next spring and summer is like this past year, Emo may have to look into a well-system or something more extensive than simply a lower intake.
“It’s funny when the district doesn’t live up to it’s name,” Reeve Reid mused.