The following is an exchange from concerned Lake Nokomis Concerned Citizens (LNCC) area citizens and Wisconsin Valley Improvement Co. (WVIC)
To: Sam (Morgan of WVIC) (Monday, June 29, 2009)
Jim Christensen has concerns along with another 1100 land owners around the Rice Reservoir. Please explain the reason for the draw down over the weekend.
**Sam Morgan's response:
Rice Reservoir (Lake Nokomis) is operated to maintain a uniform flow in the Wisconsin River according to Article 412 of WVIC’s FERC license. The operating rules set target flows for the Wisconsin River at Merrill and specify how WVIC must balance storages between the reservoirs using the concept of “Index Levels”. Please refer to the following page on our website for a more detailed explanation of the operating plan. http://www.wvic.com/index.php?option=co ... &Itemid=75
As this applies to our current situation, we had some decent rains in May and the first week of June, so the water level in Rice Reservoir rose to near the full mark in mid-May and remained close to full through the middle of June. However, by mid-June the runoff from the spring rains ended, the runoff-producing rains stopped, and the flow of the Wisconsin River dropped rapidly. According to the operating rules, I began releasing water from the northern reservoirs on June 14th. The gate at Rice was opened to 12 inches on June 14th, then to 16 inches on June 19th. The gate is still at 16 inches.
Since the operating rules require us to balance the storages between the reservoirs, and since Rice and Spirit are much fuller than Rainbow and Willow (both more than six feet below full), we are required to use water from Rice and Spirit first before we can start taking water from Rainbow and Willow. Hence the rapid decline in water level you have observed. The rate of drawdown on Rice will decrease when the index levels for all the reservoirs get “in balance”.
The water level in the lake has been dropping at a steady rate for the past 10 days because water is being released to augment the flow of the Wisconsin River. The rate of drawdown did not increase over the weekend (see the attached water level graph). The drawdown is not affected by kayak races in Wausau. No “extra” water from the reservoirs is required to run the kayak course. See the following page on our website for a detailed explanation of how the kayak course works: http://www.wvic.com/index.php?option=co ... &Itemid=10
I realize that the five-year drought in northern Wisconsin has resulted in low reservoir water levels that are frustrating to LNCC members. The drought has also kept the flow of the Wisconsin River well below normal. The last time the average monthly flow of the river was “normal” was in June 2004 – a full five years ago. We would all like to see higher water levels and higher river flows. The only thing that will make this happen is enough rain to overcome the 20+ inch deficit in rainfall that we have experienced since 2004.
I hope this information is helpful. As always, if you have further question feel free to contact me.
Wisconsin Valley Improvement Co.
2301 North Third St.
Wausau, WI 54403
Phone: 715.848.2976, Extension 301