In GF, Minnesota River holding steady

MARSHALL – Residents of Granite Falls will be relieved to know the National Weather Service sees little risk of serious flooding at present.

According to the NWS river gauge near U.S. Highway 212, the Minnesota River is three feet below action state.

“We’ve been monitoring things and we’ve seen gradual rises of the river,” said NWS Chanhassen office hydrologist Diane Cooper, “but it’s holding steady way below action stage. We’re in the in-between period where it’s rises- are snow melt-driven versus rain-driven.

“At this point we’re in a monitor mode, and it looks like it’s holding steady.”

But according to Cooper, this is the first season since the removal of the Minnesota River dam downstream from Granite Falls, and they aren’t sure how that will affect high level flows. The late-season snowfall also could play a factor.

But whatever happens, the city is as ready as it’s ever been thanks to the mitigation programs undertaken since the flood of 1997, according to Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski.

“We have three large projects and a couple of smaller ones to do,” Smiglewski said. “It’s been a long, long process, but we’ve seen the fruits of that work in 2010 and 2011.”

The city is relocating the sewage treatment plant lift station away from the river, constructing a pump station behind Casey’s at a location flood water tends to back up the storm sewer system, and raising the east end of the pedestrian bridge three feet.

“In 1997 the water came up to the chest-high railing,” Smiglewski said.

Granite Falls has also bought out and moved houses on the flood plain.

“We’re concerned about upstream moisture; there’s a 30 to 40 percent chance of low-level flooding,” Smiglewski said. “But even at that, water would have to get substantially higher. At this point we feel pretty good about where we’re at.”