Sections of dock sat in the middle of the Pine River in Crosslake Monday, June 25, after flooding forced dam gates open and raised river levels.
Docks have begun to pull away from the shore of the Pine River as water levels have risen to high levels.
"This is pretty much unprecedented," said Deb Griffith, ranger at the Crosslake Army Corps of Engineers campground.
Griffith is part of the crew monitoring and managing the dam. She said the area received 8 inches of rain between Sunday, June 17, and Wednesday, June 20.
Though the initial rainfall had an impact on water levels, a possibly greater impact came after runoff from miles of surrounding area reached the Whitefish Chain, dam and, finally, the Pine River.
Currently the water level is 11 inches above normal on the Whitefish Chain. Water is flowing out of the Cross Lake dam at a rate of 1,800 cubic feet a second (CFS). This compares to a standard low rate, during the August dry season, of 100-200 CFS.
The last time the dam was open this far, Griffith said, was in 1985.
As of Monday, flow rates leaving the dam were higher than those coming to the dam, which Griffith said is good.
"Hopefully, that means that our drainage area is coming close to coming down, and we should start to see a decrease of the lake level," Griffith said, adding that it will take a week at the very least for the lake to return to normal operating level.
Aside from the obvious factor of rain, heat can also determine how quickly water levels recede, said Mary Kay Larson of the Gull Lake Army Corps of Engineers dam.
Warm weather, Larson said, causes water to evaporate and could lower levels faster.
Stop logs were once again pulled at the Gull Lake dam after another 2.5 inches of rain fell on that area. It took two weeks for water to get back down to its normal level after the last big rainfall from May 22-29.
As of Thursday, June 22, the Gull Lake dam was all the way open.
In the city of Pine River, public works director Mike Hansen said the dam is running the most it has since he started 15 years ago.
Before the last major rainstorm, the dam was flowing at 85 CFS. Now the dam is flowing at 480 CFS, nearly six times as much.
Hansen said the Pine River dam is directly affected by the Deep Portage area. Even if it doesn't rain in Pine River, any rain that hits Hackensack or Backus flows to the Pine River dam.
While Hansen has received complaints from dock owners down stream, he's working to give equal consideration to areas above the dam, where there's a concern for flooding basements.
"We try to balance the river on the upside to what's coming out on the downside," Hansen said.
Crow Wing County sheriff Todd Dahl said a county-wide no wake ordinance could be temporarily implemented. The office has received numerous calls, he said, from people concerned about their shorelines, boats and docks.
However, enforcing such a law would be difficult, Dahl said, as Crow Wing County has 417 lakes and 92,000 acres of water.
Public access on Black Bear and Miller lakes located in Wolford Township is temporarily closed. A temporary "Slow No Wake Zone" is in effect for these lakes because of the impact that threatens public infrastructure. Lake homeowners will still be allowed to use the accesses for removal of watercraft if needed.
A news release from the sheriff's office said the county has received historic rainfall since early June, and lakes are near all-time high water levels.
Dahl asked for the community's cooperation in exercising safe boating practices as residents have reported yards under water and docks floating away.
"What we see is that boats are able to come closer to shore than they ever have," Dahl said. "Waves cause erosion. You're seeing lawns, sand beaches that are literally being swept out."
Dahl said a county-wide no wake zone has not been in effect at any time in his memory.
"It's not off the table, it just seems like it would be very hard for the county to do that because of the large amount of lakes," Dahl said.
A few roads were closed in Crow Wing County after the recent rainfall, though most have reopened. County Road 36 east of County Road 105 is still closed, as is Ross Brook and the bridge on County Road 36 and the bridge on Spruce Grove, according to Crow Wing County's website.
Roads were also closed up river in Cass County. Sheriff Tom Burch said the only road still closed in Cass County is County Road 48 in Blind Lake Township.
The culvert was washed out on that road and a new one is being installed. It could be a few days before the road is reopened. Some other roads have water over them but are passable by vehicle traffic.
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