Minnesota Power dam system holding just fineMinnesota Power’s system of reservoirs and dams along the St. Louis River leading into the Twin Ports is holding well despite massive amounts of water pouring through, officials said Wednesday afternoon.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
Minnesota Power’s system of reservoirs and dams along the St. Louis River leading into the Twin Ports is holding well despite massive amounts of water pouring through, officials said Wednesday afternoon.
Utility officials said there are no problems with any of the four dams along the lower river — including the Fond du Lac, Thomson, Scanlon and Knife Falls dams between Cloquet and Duluth.
“There are no problems, no failures: The system is designed to handle this kind of flood and more," Amy Rutledge, spokeswoman for the Duluth-based utility, said Wednesday.
Stream flow on the St. Louis River at the Fond du Lac dam rocketed tenfold from the usual 2,000 to 5,000 cubic feet per second to a gushing 47,000 cubic feet per second Wednesday morning, Rutledge said, as more gates were opened in the dams to relieve flooding behind them.
Minnesota Power did have to shut down electrical generators at its Scanlon generating station because water had risen to flood the floor of the building, said Bonnie Carlson, hydropower operations manager for Minnesota Power.
The utility’s dams at all five reservoir lakes north of Duluth also were holding well, although some areas below the lakes are flooding along the Cloquet River because so much water is flowing through, such as at Hunter Lake.
The utility’s hydro operations went into emergency operations mode early Wednesday and began to open gates in the dams to allow more water to pass through and prevent floods upstream. That caused the St. Louis River to rise rapidly in the Fond du Lac neighborhood, as it has often in the past, and inundate riverfront areas there.
Carlson said it could be Saturday before stream flow levels actually peak and begin to drop as water makes its way down toward Lake Superior.
Meanwhile, power remained out at the Miller Hill Mall in Duluth and Barker’s Island area of Superior Wednesday afternoon, where in both cases electrical service boxes are under water.
“We can’t even get our crews in to fix those until the water recedes," Rutledge said.
Most of Minnesota Power’s power outages Wednesday were scattered, caused by lightning hitting power poles and, in some cases, washouts causing poles to fall.