High water levels causing problems at local lakes

By Amanda Schwarze
Staff Writer

With near record-breaking rainfall for the month, lakes are experiencing high water levels.

The rain is quite a change from earlier in the year when water levels were low around the area. The Lake Minnetonka Conservation District (LMCD) had even initiated a low water declaration because the water level on the lake had fallen below 928 feet.

May’s rainy weather has changed that problem. According to the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District’s website, Lake Minnetonka’s water level was recently measured at 928.74 feet and Gray’s Bay Dam was opened for the first time this season.

Water levels on Long Lake had risen to the point where docks at Nelson Lakeside Park were completely submerged. Long Lake City Administrator Terry Post said that the city’s public works crew had raised the docks once this season, but that wasn’t enough to prevent them from again being submerged after the rainy weather over the Memorial Day weekend.

The rising water has also led to slow no-wake ordinances going into effect for Lake Independence and Lake Sarah. A press release from the city of Independence noted that the ordinances now require "that all watercraft must run at slow no-wake speed within 250 feet of shore and this includes leaving directly to and from a dock." According to the release, slow no-wake rules may go into effect when Lake Independence reaches or exceeds 957.8 feet above sea level for a period of at least three consecutive days and the rules may go into effect for Lake Sarah reaches or exceeds 981.1 feet above sea level for at least three consecutive days.

The release notes that wave action at high water levels causes erosion of the shoreline. That erosion releases nutrient rich sediments that degrade water quality and can cause increased algae blooms. According to the release, shoreline habitat is also damaged by those waves.

While waves will naturally occur in the lakes, the release notes, the slow no-wake rules are implemented to control watercraft wake so fewer waves are causing problems.