Rising water levels on Goose Lake in Scandia have left residents worried about property damage, unwanted standing water and potential flooding.
Greg Hed has lived on Goose Lake for almost twenty years. He’s recently lost several trees to the encroaching water and has also been unable to put his dock in the water. He said the water level issues began last year and have continued into this summer.
“If it gets high enough, the water will come into my basement,” he said.
Hed has been in touch with the Minnesota Department of Resources, the City of Scandia and the Carnelian-Marine St. Croix Watershed District to try to address the problem. Who is responsible for addressing the water level issue is somewhat of a grey area, which may be partially why the problem has thus far gone unaddressed.
“So who actually regulates the lake, kind of depends on what is being regulated,” said Scandia city administrator Ken Cammilleri.
The DNR is responsible for enforcing any existing regualtions concerning recreational traffic on the lake, which are implemented statewide. However, the town of Scandia is currently looking into the possiblitiy of implementing more localized regulations, which could help address the water level issue.
“Right now the city of Scandia is in the process of investigating whether or not we can implement surface water regulations,” Cammilleri said. “In order for us to do that we have some technical information we have to submit and we have to draft legislation, all of which has to go to the DNR for approval.”
One of the regluations being considered is a no wake rule when water levels are above a certain height. This wouldn’t directly affect the water levels of course, but could help cut down on shoreline damage by recreational traffic while those levels are elevated.
“The concern has been raised that if people are out on the lake recreating and levels are high, it can really tear up the shoreline,” Cammilleri said. “So we’re looking into that.”
Adressing the water level directly is more challenging. A combination of several different issues could be causing the levels to remain high, and a solution has not yet presented itself.
It’s unclear whether or not Goose Lake has a natural inlet and outlet to allow for drainage, which means as levels increase, there’s nowhere for the extra water to go. This, combined with a historically wet year in 2019, may be leading to the shoreline issues.
Data provided by the Carnelian-Marine St. Croix Watershed District shows Goose Lake levels reaching the highest point in over a decade in mid-2019. Total precipitation in the Twin Cities for the 2018-19 ‘water year’ (measured from Oct. 1 to the following Sept. 30) was 41.39 inches, the highest on record, according to the National Weather Service. This seems to be an obvious culprite for the surging water levels on Goose Lake. However, the 2015-16 water year was the second highest on record with 41.29 inches of precipitation and Goose Lake did not see a coorliating rise in water levels during that time. Also compounding the issue is the fact that levels have actually increased again in 2020, surpassing the 2019 peak.
Hed believes the continuing increase in water levels may also be due to man made changes in the surrounding area.
“It’s man-made, engineered, drainage into the lake,” he said. “We’ve just had roads redone, with new culverts and improved drainage, channeling all runoff into the lake.”
Barb Galle is also a longtime resident of Goose Lake. She’s lost a number of trees to the rising water and also has contunal standing water in her pasture.
Like Hed, Galle has reached out to several local organizations to try to find some kind of resolution to the issue, but has so far come up empty handed.
“I’ve gone to Scandia, I’ve gone to the watershed district, I’ve gone down to the county courthouse,” she said. “And I’ve gotten nowhere.”
She said the lack of response has been very frustrating, especially as the issue continues to get worse.
“They need to listen to the property owners,” she said. “I shouldn’t have half of a lake in my backyard.”