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Posted on: March 13, 2019

Potential for High Water and Flooding March 12-14

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District is monitoring the potential for spring flooding this year. The approximately 1-inch of rain that is in the forecast for Tuesday through the Thursday is raising flood concerns. Localized flooding on area roadways is possible. Residents are encouraged to clear their neighborhood storm drains of snow and ice so the rain and snowmelt can drain off of the roads.

Due to the forecasted rain, there is also a risk of ice jams forming on Minnehaha Creek. MCWD is coordinating with the cities of Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Edina and Minneapolis, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to monitor for ice jams and to remove them as needed.

For the latest “Situation Report” please visit the National Weather Service website.

As the expert on how water flows across our watershed, we are actively working with our partners to understand the potential impacts, provide accurate information to residents and our communities, and effectively manage the flow of water out of the Gray’s Bay Dam.

Gathering information and understanding impacts:
To ensure our response is based on accurate information and sound science, we are collecting data and closely monitoring weather projections. MCWD staff is working across the watershed to determine the amount of snow and ice that is on the landscape. We are also gathering data from the National Weather Service, Hennepin County Emergency Management, and the U.S. Geological Survey as part of a multi-agency coordinated effort. And we are running hydrologic snowmelt modeling scenarios to identify the locations that face potential flood risk.

As of March 12, 2019 those model results show high water elevations below FEMA’s 100-year flood zone for Minnehaha Creek. If future model results predict high water beyond FEMA’s 100-year flood zone, we will display those results on flood projection maps that will be posted on our website.

Providing information:
To help inform communities’ decision making and response, we are keeping the cities along Minnehaha Creek and Lake Minnetonka updated on the latest information we have and the potential impact on water levels. In addition to this regular communication with our communities, we will be providing updates on potential flooding and links to resources to residents by email and via the MCWD’s website. Sign up for email updates.

Managing Gray's Bay Dam:
As prescribed in the DNR approved dam operating plan, Lake Minnetonka was drawn down to 928.60 feet last fall to create storage for spring snowmelt, which allows the lake to be used as a storage basin. Lake Minnetonka’s current water elevation is estimated to be 929.05 feet.

We are taking steps to ensure the Gray’s Bay Dam is able to safely release water ahead of a large snowmelt or rain event. We expect to have a permit from the DNR next week to install aerators on the lake side of the dam to break up the ice so the gates can be raised, if needed. We anticipate installing the aerators next week after the DNR permit has been issued, however the gates will remain closed until the risk of ice jams along the creek has subsided.

By releasing water ahead of a large snowmelt or rain event, when it can be easily controlled, we can prevent flooding on Minnehaha Creek and Lake Minnetonka. This is similar to the approach we took last spring when we opened the dam ahead of two record-setting snowfalls in April. By lowering Lake Minnetonka’s water level ahead of those snow events, we avoided flooding on Minnehaha Creek and the lake in 2018.

Tips for Property Owners:
Get the latest information by visiting our website.

Review your insurance coverage. There is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect. Learn more about flood insurance. Check to see if your policy covers sanitary sewer back-ups. More information is available from the Insurance Information Institute.

For specific questions about local flood response, including where to find sand bags and other resources, contact your city.

Minnehaha Creek:
* Edina – Dave Goergen, Public Works Coordinator, 952-292-6225
* Minnetonka – Minnetonka Public Works, 952-988-8400 between 7am-3:30pm
* St. Louis Park – Steve Koering, Fire Chief, 612-790-4019

Lake Minnetonka:
* Deephaven – Dana Young, City Administrator, 952-358-9936
* Greenwood - Dana Young, City Clerk, 952-358-9936
* Orono – 952-249-4600, after hours call Dispatch at 952-258-5321
* Wayzata – Mike Kelly, City Engineer/Director of Public Works, 952-404-5316

Learn more

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