103G.421 CONTROL OF MISSISSIPPI HEADWATER LAKES.
Subdivision 1. Reason for control.
The legislature finds that the regulation, control, and
utilization of waters in the headwater lakes in the Mississippi River, including Leech Lake,
Winnibigoshish Lake, Pokegama Lake, Pine River, the Whitefish chain, Sandy Lake, and Gull
Lake are of tremendous economic importance and value to the state and the utility of these lakes
in aid of navigation has been very greatly diminished since the time of the establishment of the
reservoirs, and that the economic values in utilization of these waters for state purposes has
increased tremendously. These factors require the assertion on the part of the state of Minnesota
of its rights to utilization and control of these water areas.
Subd. 2. Joint federal-state control.
The commissioner shall enter into cooperative
agreements with the United States of America acting through the Department of the Army for
the joint control and regulation of the Mississippi headwater reservoirs to control the water
elevations and the water discharges from the Mississippi headwaters lakes in the interests of
the state, subject only to:
(1) a paramount need of waters from these sources in aid of substantial navigation
(2) a substantial requirement of providing necessary flood control storage capacity as
determined by the United States Department of the Army Corps of Engineers.
Subd. 3. Plan for dam operation.
(a) The commissioner must develop a plan for the
operation of the dams controlling each of the Mississippi headwater reservoirs that:
(1) establishes the water elevation on each of the Mississippi headwater lakes at the most
desirable height and stabilizes the stages at that point, as practicable, during the recreational
(2) considers reasonable fluctuations when desirable for the production of wild rice in the
wild rice producing areas of Mississippi headwater lakes;
(3) considers the elevations most desirable for the production and maintenance of wildlife
(4) considers the needs of water for recreation, agriculture, forestry, game and fish, industry,
municipal water supply and sewage disposal, power generation, and other purposes in the
Mississippi River headwaters and downstream;
(5) establishes stages at which the water will be maintained, as practicable, but recognizing
the following minimum stages in reference to present zeros on the respective government gauges:
(i) Leech Lake ...............0.0;
(ii) Winnibigoshish Lake .....6.0;
(iii) Pokegama Lake ..........6.0;
(iv) Sandy Lake ..............7.0;
(v) Pine River ...............9.0;
(vi) Gull Lake ...............5.0;
(6) prescribes maximum discharges when the elevations fall below the stages; and
(7) prescribes maximum elevations and amounts of discharge from each lake to stabilize
and effectuate the desired stages and, as practicable, does not allow the elevation to exceed
the following maximum lake stages:
(i) Leech Lake ...............3.5;
(ii) Winnibigoshish Lake ....12.0;
(iii) Pokegama Lake .........12.0;
(iv) Sandy Lake .............11.0;
(v) Pine River ..............14.0;
(vi) Gull Lake ...............7.0.
(b) The plan developed by the commissioner must consider the following conditions:
(1) the necessity for changing discharges to meet emergencies resulting from unexpected
or abnormal inflows;
(2) the possibility of overriding requirements of the federal government for substantial
discharges to meet reasonable and substantial navigation requirements; and
(3) the overriding authority and needs as prescribed by the United States Department of the
Army Corps of Engineers in discharging their functions of requiring additional storage capacity
for flood control purposes.
Subd. 4. Notice of plan.
Before the plan of operation for a headwater lake is effective,
the commissioner must publish a notice of hearing on the plan of operation for two weeks in a
newspaper in each county where the affected waters are located.
Subd. 5. Hearing on plan.
(a) The hearing must be conducted by the commissioner or an
appointed referee. The hearing will not be governed by legal rules of evidence, but the findings
of fact and orders, to be made and formulated by the commissioner, must be predicated only on
relevant, material, and competent evidence.
(b) Interested parties must have an opportunity to be heard, under oath, and are subject
to cross-examination by adverse parties and by the attorney general or the attorney general's
representative who shall represent the commissioner at the hearing.
(c) The findings of fact and orders incorporating the plan determined by the commissioner
must be published for two weeks in the same manner as the notice of hearing.
Subd. 6. Appeal.
A riparian owner or water user aggrieved by the commissioner's findings
has the right to appeal by 30 days after completion of publication of the findings and order to the
district court of a county where the regulated water is located. The appeal shall be determined by
the court on the record made before the commissioner. Issues on the appeal are limited to the legal
rights of the parties and whether the findings of the commissioner are reasonably supported by
the evidence at the hearing.
Subd. 7. Modifications.
(a) After a plan has been put into effect, the commissioner is
authorized to modify the stages sought to be maintained by modifying the plan with respect to any
of the lakes involved to the extent of one foot in elevation according to the zeros of the present
government gauges without holding additional hearings, except a departure from the elevation
target may not be made to reduce proposed stages below the minimums prescribed by subdivision
3, paragraph (a), clause (5), during the recreational season.
(b) A modification of the established plan that departs by more than one foot in elevation may
be placed into effect only after a hearing is held in the same manner as the hearing establishing
the plan as provided under subdivisions 4 and 5.
History: 1990 c 391 art 7 s 42