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Fond du Lac Water Management Project – Carlton County, Minnesota

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Fond du Lac Water Management Project – Carlton County, Minnesota

The Fond du Lac Water Management Project was a cooperative effort of the Fond du Lac (FDL) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Minnesota USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to conduct a hydrologic assessment of the Stoney Brook watershed. The assessment included recommendations for optimizing water levels for wild rice production on Reservation lakes. Hydrology was significantly altered in this watershed in 1916 when a ditch system was installed to drain the soils for agricultural production which in turn significantly lowered water levels on five wild rice lakes. Due extremely flat grade of the channel and the large areas of poorly drained organic soils, the original intent of converting lands to agricultural production was not realized. The remnants of this early ditch system remain today, continuing to impact lake level fluctuations.

Several management and structural alternatives were investigated to limit lake level fluctuations:
A. Gate Management of Existing Lake Outlet Structures
B. Increase Capacity of Main Channel
C. Impoundment Storage Management
D. Breaching of Existing Spoil Dike
E. Diversion of Runoff Between Sub watersheds
F. Outlet Structure Modifications (i.e. adding lengthening stop log bays)

Hydraulic modeling, calibrated to several years of data gathered by the FDL Band, shows that proper timing of gate management of existing structures can control fluctuations to an acceptable level for 2 inch and less rainfall events. For fluctuation control following larger events, existing structures would require modifications in addition to increasing downstream channel capacity. Breaching existing spoil dikes and diversion of runoff between sub watersheds did little to control fluctuations.

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