Lake levels staying within rule curve

FORT FRANCES—Despite a relative lack of rain this summer, data presented Wednesday night at the joint annual public meeting of the International Rainy Lake Board of Control and the International Rainy River Water Pollution Board here showed Rainy Lake and Namakan Lake water levels are within the rule curve.
“Over the last 12 months, both Namakan and Rainy Lake have remained within the rule curve,” IRLBC board member Peter Williams told about 30 people, including area residents, as well as representatives from both boards and the International Joint Commission, at La Place Rendez-Vous.
He noted the water level had been tracking right through the middle of the curve until only the summer months, when it dipped to the lower end of the rule curve.
“Right now, the inflow and the outflow on Rainy Lake is almost exactly equal,” Williams added.
“The scattered rainfall has been just enough to keep the lake levels inside the rule curve,” noted Rick Cousins, an engineer with the Lake of the Woods Control Board and a member of the Canadian engineering support team with the IRLBC.
“It’s been a little bit of luck, with the rain. But it’s been just enough to keep the levels inside the rule curve,” he explained.
In response to a question from the audience as to how the new rule curve, which was instituted in 2001, is working, local Ministry of Natural Resources district manager Bill Darby, who sits on the IRRWPB, replied the data gathered so far, such as affect on wildlife, seems to follow what was expected.
He added if there was a clear problem with the rule curve at this point and its affect on the environment, something would be done about it.
“I think it’s a dynamic process,” echoed John Merriman, Canadian chair of the IRRWPB and issues co-ordinator with Environment Canada. “It’s very early on.”
Darby noted 2015 is the set date for any changes to be implemented. These would be recommended by the MNR and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Darby also said there’s been some discussion about doing a survey of the socio-economic impact of the rule curve change, in addition to the ongoing environmental assessment, which may happen down the road if funding can be allocated for it.
Also at Wednesday night’s meeting, there was an update on the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) hydrological study of Rainy River—the first part of which took place over two weeks in May.
The purpose of the project, which involves charting velocity at numerous points along the river, is to get a complete picture of how water rides along it.
U.S. engineering advisor Ed Eaton said this only is the first step in developing a a model for the river, which ultimately will be useful in determining the impact of flooding in high water years and aid in making decisions in such instances.
The survey will continue this fall.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)