2018: Drawdown Delayed

The Little Rock Lake Association a volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to restore and maintain the Little Rock Lake Watershed was advised by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that the planned drawdown for August 1st, 2018 will be delayed. 

The drawdown of Little Rock Lake and the Mississippi River north of Sartell will be postponed for a year due to a need for a further review to satisfy federal requirements, according to the Minnesota DNR. Because the Sartell dam that would be opened to allow the drawdown is a hydropower dam overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a thorough review of potential impacts to cultural and historical resources is required before the project can proceed. Due to miscommunications, the historical-cultural review that was done did not meet strict federal requirements. 

Large projects always have many moving parts in them. Federal review of projects (Due to FERC) becomes even more complicated. The Sartell Dam is a FERC regulated dam. As such, any changes in operational procedure require extensive Cultural resource review. The State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO) needed unanticipated, additional consultation from several cultural resources, for the project to go forward. While all approvals were met for a normal state run project, the federal process is lengthier and some levels of miscommunication were also present. As a result, the drawdown for 2018 has been postponed until the same time frame (August 1-September 15) in 2019. This will allow FERC, Eagle Creek, MNDNR, SHPO Little Rock Lake Association and Benton SWCD to obtain adequate review of this project for 2019. 

“For a couple years now, a lot of agencies and people have been working toward the goals of better water quality and habitat that this drawdown would bring about, so this delay is certainly disappointing,” said Eric Altena, the DNR fisheries supervisor who has spearheaded the project. “It’s only a temporary setback, though. We’ll be back next summer with everything in order and set to go for the same timeframe.”There are efforts being made to still try and accomplish some portions of the project. However, plans have not been solidified. We will do our best to keep residents and users informed. 

Your volunteer Little Rock Lake Association Board of Directors remain committed to better watershed health and will continue to be involved in the drawdown and advocate for Little Rock Lake. Please watch the Little Rock Lake Association web site and Facebook for continued updates.