Reduced outflow having impact on mill generation

Although the International Rainy Lake Board of Control on Tuesday authorized a further reduction of the outflow from Rainy Lake, the local mill will see only a minor reduction in its hydro generation.
Energy superintendent Rick Collett said Thursday morning that the mill has eight generators in total, but due to the low water levels this year, it’s already been running far fewer than that for months now.
“We’ve been running fairly low flows since July, so this further reduction for us basically means we’re running one less generator than we were before,” Collett explained.
“We’re running two generators instead of three based on the amount of flow we have running through.”
But Collett stressed the amount of hydroelectricity being generated, in comparison to what the mill uses, is fairly small.
“The majority of the power we use in the mill is purchased, so the generators on the dam supplement that a little bit,” he noted.
“But the difference in flows over the past couple of days haven’t really had that big of an impact. Maybe one megawatt or so in generation.
“We’ve been the victim of the drought for pretty much the last half of the year,” added Collett. “The reduction we’re doing right now isn’t that big of an impact on the generation at the mill.”
As reported in yesterday’s Times, the IRLBC authorized a further reduction of outflow due to the persistent dry conditions in the Rainy-Namakan basin and continued decline in the level of Rainy Lake.
The outflow has been reduced from 80 cubic meters per second (m3/s), or 2,830 cubic feet per second (ft3/s), down to 65 m3/s (2,300 ft3/s).
This reduction of 15 m3/s (530 ft3/s) occurred in two equal steps yesterday morning and this morning, and follows an earlier reduction of 20 m3/s (710 ft3/s) authorized by the board Dec. 8.
These actions have been taken under the terms of the International Joint Commission’s January, 2001 Consolidated Order for regulation of the level of Rainy Lake and other boundary waters in its watershed.
The board said it also is closely monitoring dissolved oxygen levels in the Rainy River and water levels at the water supply intake at Emo.
As of Tuesday, the current level of Rainy Lake was 336.79 m (1,105.0 ft.), which is 45 cm (18 inches) below its lower rule curve and 17 cm (seven inches) below its drought line.
Up-to-date information can be found by following the IRLBC’s link at
Residents also can call the board’s engineering advisors, Rick Walden (1-819-997-2529) or Ed Eaton (1-651-290-5617).