Is there anything we can do about low lake levels?
Lake level fluctuation is a natural phenomenon of Minnesota lakes. Spring drought conditions resulted in lower lake levels than most shoreland homeowners have seen in recent memory. Although conditions in northeastern Minnesota have improved from...
Lake level fluctuation is a natural phenomenon of Minnesota lakes. Spring drought conditions resulted in lower lake levels than most shoreland homeowners have seen in recent memory. Although conditions in northeastern Minnesota have improved from the severe drought conditions of this spring, the U.S. Drought Monitor still ranks much of Minnesota as "abnormally dry" or in a "moderate drought."
Fluctuations in lake levels can be the result of human activities, such as dam operations, or acts of nature, such as beaver activity. However, water level fluctuations are primarily a response to changes in precipitation. Fluctuating water levels affect shorelines in several ways, including causing erosion, changing lake bacteria levels, and altering water access and dockage.
With the appropriate Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) permits, low water levels can also be an opportunity for shoreland owners to plant native vegetation in the exposed substrate along the shoreline. Native plants - with their longer root systems, adaptation to local conditions, and heartiness - make shorelines more resilient to Minnesota's varied precipitation conditions, from flooding to drought. A diversity of grass, shrub and tree root systems along a shoreline can act like rebar in cement-strengthening the shoreline against wave and ice action.
You don't have to own lakeshore to help mitigate the impacts of precipitation fluctuation on your favorite local lake. Landowners throughout a watershed can help by reducing the amount of water that runs through municipal stormwater systems. Encourage infiltration and groundwater recharge by minimizing the amount of impervious surfaces on your property and redirecting downspouts toward vegetated areas or rain gardens (rather than toward driveways or other impervious surfaces that encourage runoff).
Shoreland homeowners should check with a local DNR office before starting any shoreline project. The DNR must ensure that only native vegetation is planted in public waters. Native plant lists and shoreland and rain garden planting advice are available from the University of Minnesota Extension Service ( www.extension.umn.edu ) and the DNR Shoreland Habitat Program ( www.dnr.state.mn.us ).
For more lakes information e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Louise Like, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Region 2, can be contacted at 218-327- 4455 or by e-mail at email@example.com .