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hert2005

Water Levels

50 posts in this topic

I noticed when I was in the area last weekend that there is a levee holding back or slowing down the flow of water from North to South Turtle. Anyone in that area have an update on the big project and any predictions for water levels this year?

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Water levels are high right now, but not as high as last spring. The dike "failed" last week sometime, and we got some pretty heavy flow for a few days. County has since fixed it and slowed the inflow to a slow trickle.

County is planning on treating the project as an emergency. Last I heard, they had one more easement to finish, and then they will bid the project. Hopefully, it will be done by mid June.

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Thanks for the update. It will be nice to have a permanent fix. I've been told we have a nice, sandy beach area under 6' of water. smirk.gif

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My neighbors have told me about the days they used to have a sand volleyball court down by the lake. This will be my 7th summer and I can't imagine having that much beach.

Although as long as I can catch fish I'm happy. cool.gif

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I can vouch for both your beaches. If you go dig online on the DNR site, you can find aerial photos from 1939 of the area. South Turtle shows that the two basins were seperated. The water was probably at least 15 feet lower than now.

archerystud - that beach at the resort was fantastic. I used to ride my bike down there and just hang all day.

hert - in 1976, I was able to walk from my point all the way over to the campgrounds. Now that rock bar is in 10 feet of water.

The outlet will only drop the water to about two feet less than it is now, which will be about 4 feet above the nice beaches.

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Please ignore my ignorance, but in a nutshell, is the high water simply a result of an abnormally wet decade? I'm assuming only lakes without an outlet are affected. I know Pebble and Norway are very high too. Is the high water localized or is it a problem in surrounding counties too?

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I read an article yesterday and the hydrologist (Terry Lejcher) was basically saying that exact thing. The abundance of rain is causing the land locked lakes to have these issues.

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An abundance of rain and alot of drained wetlands draining into these areas also. Instead of these wetlands acting like a sponge and absorbing rain water and snow melt, every time there is an abundance of moisture it ends up on the fast track to these land locked areas. Sort of the same thing with devils lake in ND. I think there should be more of an emphasis put on restoring wetlands in these watersheds than putting all of the money towards trying to make an outlet!

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Yep, when you drain a pothole or a wet slough, where do you suppose that water goes. Now, keep draining them, with all thier run-off chemicals and guess what-eutrophic lakes that are too high. Wet natural cycle in some areas adds to the situation.

But, not much we can do about it because you KNOW they ain't gonna stop draining potholes! Ha! grin.gif

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B. Amish,

I agree 100 percent that there should be more pothole restoration.

In the case of this thread, however, it would not really help the situation. These lakes sit right on the south side of the continental divide, and the watershed is relatively small. There is very little tiled ag land involved here. North and South Turtle have been this high before, as recently as 1919 or thereabouts. You can tell this from old timer's first hand accounts, and from just looking at the terrain. You can see the old beach lines very clearly in spots. There are hardwoods above this line, and only cottonwood/poplar below. None of the trees below the old beach lines are over 100 years old.

The dustbowl years of the 1930 had a lot of the surface water disappear. The lake was about 16-18 feet lower that it is now in the year 1939. In 50's and 60's, land began to be developed. The county issued building permits based upon what was considered to be the high water line at the time. This was at 1318 feet MSL. The lake at the time was 2-4 feet lower that this mark. In 1976, the lake was probably at about 1312 feet.

In the late 1980's we started to get some abnormally high rain years with heavy winter snows. The lake began to rise, albeit slowly. This is the nature of landlocked water sheds. Slow to rise, slow to fall.

In 1999, it was getting so bad that something had to be done. A lake assosciation was formed, and that grew into a Lake Improvement District. Engineering studies were done, and the most cost effective soloution at that time was to pump. That was done for four seasons, and it did keep the water at bay. The water still rose, however, due to our limited timeframe where pumping was allowed.

In the spring of 2006, the water was up to about 1322.5 MSL. The lake would flow naturally at about 1330 feet. If it got to this level, all but one dwelling would be innundated, along with all those septic systems. It would also devastate the local tax base. In my case, I could cut holes in my upper floor and spear pike in the winter. This is no fault of the property owners - they were issued building permits by a government who probably did not understood the hydraulic history of the watershed. Keep in mind the high water levels that the county uses to establish setback are from DNR data.

Believe me, we would have much prefered to leave everything natural. So far we have spent over $200,000 to pump, and the project for an outlet is going to run more than that.

On the plus side, the high water has had some benefits. Much more cat tail riparian areas have resulted, and our waters have never been clearer. Additional spawning habitats have also come from the high water, with waterfowl production that has been spectacular. The outlet will be constructed as to limit the lake to a level at 1320 MSL. This will keep a majority of the riparian areas intact along with their excellent benefits.

I think my signature line pretty much sums up the fix we are in grin.gif

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Gissert,

I appreciate the thorough response, but I will have to respectfully disagree that restoring wetlands in the watershed "would not really help the situation".

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It sure would not hurt to restore wetlands - I'd love to see that very much.

The lake has risen to levels higher than it is now in the days prior to wetland drainage. Wetlands then were much more in number, yet the lake still rose.

We are trying to protect our property to the best of our ability.

Due to the wet years we have had, there are a lot of duck sloughs cranking out production now that were not there in the mid 1970's.

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Hey Gissert:

Had a beautiful weekend to get a lot of work done. However, I can't believe how much the lake is up again from when my dad and I were up to cut down trees.

Basically I have no beach again and the road will soon go under water. Hopefully we can start draining soon!!!

We'll be up for the opener to do some fishing. cool.gif

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......And it was a beautiful night out just loafing on the lake cruising. We just took three nice slow circuits around enjoying the sunset and the full moon rise.

Big gnat hatch going on, and lots of panfish rising. Some in some surprisingly deep water over 20 feet.

I am going to the county board meeting in the morning - the lake outlet is on the agenda. I'll let you know what goes on.

The inflow dam had a bit of 'extra" flow again today, but that has been fixed. My gage shows no rise over the last seven days, thank goodness.

Looking at that stump next to your place with the flag on it - we were in worse shape last spring.

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The gnats were pretty bad. I realize the rain/snow brought the lake up. I guess I didn't expect my beach to be gone since I had quite a bit of beach at the end of March.

The big dead tree in front of my place looks like the water was about 9-10 vertical inches higher last year.

Let me know what you find out.

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My mom lives on Elbow Lake just east of Turtle, and the water levels have also been very high. She's complained about it for years now.

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Gissert:

Any news on the outlet project? Was up during the week after a few weeks away and the water is definately on the rise.

Caught a couple of nice bass right out from your dock.

Thanks in advance for any info you have.

Hert

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The project is ready to go. The contractor is lined up. One owner has yet to sign her easement mad.gif, and that is the hold up. We should know by mid week if she has signed after the second appraisal.

If the easment had been signed, they'd probably be digging this week.

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Gissert

I'm all for the outlet but have a question. Over coffee the other day, high water was a major topic around the table. We had a county map and were trying to figure out where the outlet will be draining and if other lakes will be affected. Could anyone enlighten? I assume it will at some point be hitting the river?

Thanks. Just trying to educate myself, like I said I'm all for it. Should of been done long before now.

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It will drain through Fiske, Long, Stalker and out the Pomme de Terre river.

There have been statements in the paper and on the radio a few months back that stated it would be going into the Otter Tail river - not correct. North and South Turtle are south of the divide, and in the Pomme de Terre drainage.

There will be control gates to control the flow to regualte the rate of discharge.

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According to the local paper, the one hold out for easement rights seems to be holding firm. The paper didn't interview that person directly so one must assume they have some key environmental concerns? Or could one assume the driving force to be $$$$$?

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Island Guy,

Your second assumption would appear to be the correct one. Looking at their property from the lake, I doubt it is the first concern....

If this project does not happen, they will be innundated like everyone else.

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I'm with Gissert on this one. The party which is holding out has only voiced concerns about how much their pocketbook would be inundated to complete this project. I've never heard them voice anything about environmental concerns.

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Out at the lake this week end. Water seemed higher to me. Need to get this project underway. I am confused on why this person is holding out? I could see if it was the matter of messing with the habitat, but If money is the issue, Won't pumping the lake give them more property/nicer beach in turn increasing the value of their land? My parents beach is in better shape then some of the other poor folks that the water is tip towing up to their cabins again. It is such a nice lake if only we could get some stability on the water levels. Arggh, its frustrating that one person is holding this up.

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It was on the news last night about the high water and that the person(s) that are holding back the project wanted like 8 times the amount offered. The news also said that it could take that area by eminent domain but I'm sure that would take awhile. I hope they can see if they were their neighbors what their actions look like.

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