ST. CLOUD -- Our early season heatwave and lack of rain has dropped the water on the Mississippi River to an unusually low level this early in the season.

The normal average June flow is 7,150 cubic feet per second. For St. Cloud to run its hydroelectric dam at 100 percent the river needs to be at 6,400 cubic feet per second. Once that number drops to 1,700 cubic feet per second the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources requires the city to shut off one of the two units. That happened earlier this week when the flow dropped to 1,570.

Public Utilities Director Lisa Vollbrecht says that has happened a few other times in recent years in 2013, 2007 and 2006, however, in those instances, they were all late in the summer.

Typically it is in late August to early September, those true dog days of summer when we don't get a lot of rain.  So this is definitely unique to have it happen in mid-June.

Vollbrecht says there has only been one time when the city had to shut down both units which was the drought year of 1988. The water level would have to drop another six to seven feet before that would happen.

She says the rain that fell north of us last Friday came flowing through the dam on Monday morning, so more rain either here in St. Cloud or in northern Minnesota will help to raise the Mississippi River level.

With only one of two units now operating that means electricity generated by the dam is cut in half, also cutting the city's revenue in half.

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