High Water Levels Mean Slow Going On Lake Minnetonka

By John Lauritsen, WCCO-TV

MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) — Despite the nice weather this week, some Twin Cities lakes remain very quiet. That’s because water levels are high and boaters are being asked to take it easy.

Usually on a sunny, 70 degree day, Lake Minnetonka is flooded with boaters, kayakers and canoers. But today — silence.

Even those venturing into these waters are doing so cautiously.

“It looks a lot higher than I’ve seen it before. I’ve never seen the dock under water before,” said Alex Fleagle. He and two of his friends went canoeing on the lake Tuesday night.

Greg Nybeck of the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District said the near record snowfall from the winter and cool weather from this spring has put water levels about a foot higher than normal. It has caused erosion concerns for property owners and prompted a speed limit of no more than 5 mph to keep the wake at a minimum.

“The lake is open; it’s a public body of water. So people are encouraged to use it, but at the same time be courteous, manage you wakes and try to stay away from people’s shorelines right now,” said Nybeck.

Ice-out on Lake Minnetonka was April 14. Nybeck said for the first time since he can recall, a high-water declaration was issued that same day. One month later, very little has changed and that high-water warning remains intact.

It’s not just affecting Lake Minnetonka. Water is flowing from the lake into Minnehaha Creek at a rate of 300 cubic feet per second. A normal rate is between 75 and 150 cubic feet per second.

Until that slows down, the creek is off limits to kayakers.

“The last time it was quite this high was in September of 2002. So it is a fairly unusual situation to have this much water in the lake discharging into the creek. It’s just been a very unusual year,” said Telly Mayamek of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.

Nybeck said the Gray’s Bay Dam has been working overtime to try and regulate water levels for the lake and the creek. He said the levels are slowly starting to go down and he’s hoping they will be close to normal for Memorial Day weekend.

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