In-flow from Namakan reduced

The International Joint Commission on Thursday ordered that water be stored on Namakan Lake to stem rising water levels on Rainy Lake.
This decision, combined with the hot weather this week, could be the turning point in the battle against flooding conditions on Rainy.
“With what is happening on the river, they’re storing water on Namakan Lake because they think it can handle the extra water but the river can’t,” IJC spokesman Fabien Lengelle noted Friday morning.
“It’s only going to be for a short while because the drainage on the basin is really quick,” Lengelle added. “I don’t expect the operation to last for weeks. It will just be a matter of days.”
The decision to raise water levels on Namakan from 340.96 m (1,118.65 ft.) to 341.1 m (1,119.1 ft.) is intended to stem the levels on Rainy Lake that have been rising steadily for more than two weeks.
As of press time Friday, Rainy Lake was measured at 338.56 m (1,110.76 ft.), which is just below the third-highest level ever recorded on the lake of 338.6 m (1,110.9 ft.) in 1941.
“Some of the gates [at Namakan] will be closed temporarily by Abitibi-Consolidated to raise the level 12.2 cm [4.8 inches] and the gates will be re-opened again by Abitibi so that the in-flow matches the outflow and the level remains constant,” Rick Walden, engineering advisor for the International Rainy Lake Board of Control, said Friday morning.
With in-flows on Rainy Lake close to matching the outflow, and a good weather forecast for the short-term, the IRLBC decided it would not be putting property owners on Namakan Lake in danger if it chose to temporarily store water there.
“Finally it is safe to direct the storing of water on Namakan without putting property at risk. Previously it hadn’t been safe to do so,” Walden noted.
Walden said with the recent hot weather, Rainy Lake already was getting close to evening off (through evaporation) before the decision was made.
“This, combined with the declining in-flows to Rainy Lake, is definitely slowing the rate of rise on Rainy Lake itself,” he said.
Walden warned Rainy Lake is still rising, but that the difference between in-flow and outflow on the lake is much less. Barring rain, Walden expected the lake level would even off in a few days.
“We’re starting to see hope here,” he said. “We will still be very, very vulnerable in the upcoming weeks to rain storms but we are starting to see a turnaround.”