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.

More from John Lauritsen
  • Owned a Boat

    I use to own a bass fishing boat, and noticed that it produced less of a wake at high speed than it did at slower speeds. At high speed the boat sits on top of the water, where at low speed it sets in the water and pushes it.

  • John E Iacono

    The reek engineers have acknowledged that even at maximum flows (300cfs) through the dam it would take months to lower the lake by even 1 inch. We will have to rely on sun and wind to do in a day what the dam flows will do in a month.

    This leaves the question: Why flood the creek when it does so little good

  • Adam T

    For awesome canoeing!

  • Skeezer

    The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District hired a pathetic district technician to regulate the dam and lake levels. For years, an older gentleman whose name escapes me ran the dam, and things were very acceptable. Upon his departure, the district administrator hired a newbie right out of college who knows nothing, which has led to a waterless creek, after flooding it out just weeks prior. But for whatever reason, Eric Evenson, district administrator, insists on staffing these very critical positions with newbies. Good job MCWD !!!

  • creekresident

    That “pathetic district technition” prevented $100,000’s of dollars of flood damage along Minnehaha Creek this spring by the way the dam was managed. Where have you been all spring – there was lots of coverage on TV and in the paper, You’re right, “good job MCWD” we need more people like you in government!

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