Upper Mississippi Reservoirs Operating With Lower Levels

After a winter with much less precipitation and lower snowpack than usual, the St. Paul Engineer District reports that the Mississippi River Headwaters reservoirs are “at or below summer operating band and are ready for any potential spring precipitation.” They are currently operating at minimum outflow levels.

Corps of Engineers water managers are actively working with tribal, federal, state and local partners to make necessary adjustments based on the lack of snowpack within the basin. As a result of less than normal precipitation this winter, water managers reduced outflows from the reservoirs to begin the process of reaching the normal summer operating levels.

The Mississippi River Headwaters reservoirs include Cross Lake in Crosslake; Gull Lake near Brainerd; Lake Winnibigoshish in Grand Rapids; Leech Lake in Federal Dam; Pokegama Lake in Grand Rapids and Sandy Lake in McGregor.

Cross Lake is at elevation 1,228.24 feet, and outflow from the dam is 30 cubic feet per second, or cfs., minimum authorized outflow.

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Gull Lake is at elevation 1,193.68 feet, and outflow from the dam is 20 cfs, minimum outflow.

Lake Winnibigoshish is at elevation 1,297.68 feet, and outflow from the dam is 350 cfs., although water managers may have cut this further on March 11.

Leech Lake is at elevation 1,294.5 feet, and outflow from the dam is 266 cfs. Water managers cut outflow to 216 cfs. and may have cut this further on March 11.

Pokegama Lake is at elevation 1,273.17 feet, and outflow from the dam is 970 cfs. Water managers are cutting outflow to 720 cfs. and may potentially cut further next week.

Sandy Lake is at elevation 1,214.37 feet, and outflow from the dam is 20 cfs., minimum outflow.

Lake levels are typically kept lower until ice out to minimize the impacts of ice damage. The Corps said officials will continue to monitor conditions and are prepared to adjust if the situation changes.