MINNETONKA — The Gray’s Bay Dam is open for the season.
The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) said in a March 21 news release that it has started releasing water from Lake Minnetonka into Minnehaha Creek via the Gray’s Bay Dam in order to lower water levels on the lake.
Lowering water levels will create more space for when ice and snow melt and flow into Lake Minnetonka, as well as make room for any rain that falls this spring.
By making space in Lake Minnetonka for more water, it reduces the chance of flooding across the entire Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, the release said.
The MCWD typically won’t open the Gray’s Bay Dam until ice out is declared on Lake Minnetonka. Currently, there’s more than a foot of ice on the lake, the release said.
Because of that, the MCWD worked with Tonka Bay Marina and the city of Minnetonka to install aerators near the dam gates. This will help break up the ice on the lake so water can be released into the creek, the release said.
“Lake Minnetonka water levels are rising as February’s record snowfall melts and following recent rainfall. MCWD applied for a DNR permit to install the aerators so we can safely lower those levels,” Tiffany Schaufler, MCWD’s project and land manager, said in the release.
“By releasing water ahead of a large snowmelt or rain event, when it can be easily controlled, we can prevent flooding throughout the whole system,” she said.
The MCWD said the threat of spring flooding and ice jams on Minnehaha Creek has subsided.
As of Thursday, March 21, the MCWD was discharging 50 cubic feet of water per second from the dam, which helps moderate the amount of water flowing into Lake Minnetonka from its upper streams, the release said.
The MCWD will increase the amount that’s being discharged from the lake via the dam once the capacity of Minnehaha Creek and weather conditions allow.
This isn’t the first time the MCWD has released water before ice out on Lake Minnetonka. It did so last year ahead of the April snowstorms. By doing this, the MCWD says it avoided flooding the creek and the lake.
The MCWD operates the Gray’s Bay Dam with the goal of preventing water levels in Lake Minnetonka and along Minnehaha Creek from becoming too high or too low. The MCWD’s website is: minnehahacreek.org.