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Water levels in Lake Bella are way down this spring, even after the snow melt.  (BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE)
Water levels in Lake Bella are way down this spring, even after the snow melt. (BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE)

Snow melt not helping water levels - yet

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news Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON — Despite the fact most of the snow has melted, the water levels in area lakes haven’t seen much change.

The most recent readings of Well 26 — the well used as a benchmark for Worthington Public Utilities’ (WPU) water supply — revealed a water level nine feet below the 16-year average for this time of year. The good news is the levels are still 10 inches better than a year ago. However, the water level is seven feet, 11 inches lower than in 2012.

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A week ago, the water level rose an inch.

“The upside is that’s the first time we’ve actually seen a gain in that well since the first week of July last year,” WPU General Manager Scott Hain said. “Right now, historically, we’re pretty much at the lowest point of the year. If you look back, usually in that second or third week of March is about as low as our wells ever get. We’re just at the precipice of what is normally our recharge time.”

After last week’s reading, Hain was optimistic the snow melt was pushing the levels in the right direction. The wells, though, dropped three inches this week.

“This is the time of year where, historically, our well levels bottom out and our recharge begins,” Hain said. “Perhaps, with the depth of the frost this year, the start of our recharge will be delayed a bit.”

Another factor in the low readings is that wells take time to recharge.

“Things don’t react immediately,” Hain said. “I’m hoping that we see significantly more gain. Unfortunately, I was just down around the wells on Monday afternoon and the snow is pretty much all gone, but the vast majority of that all disappeared last week. Expecting to see that immediate impact by last Friday isn’t realistic.”

Actually, Hain said, it may take a week or two more to fully see the effects of the snow melt on the wells.

“Give it a week or couple of weeks and see what’s happening,” he said. “I know there are some sump pumps in town that are kicking on now and things like that. The vast majority of the snow melted over the course of last week — it doesn’t surprise me that we didn’t see the total impact of that.”

Hain is hoping this isn’t it.

“If this is it, I would say we didn’t get the type of snowpack and recharge from snow melt that I certainly would have hoped for,” he said. “Is it too early to say this is it? Probably. But we’ll see what the number is next Friday. We do live in Minnesota, so there is a chance we could get a couple more wet, heavy snows.”

There is still a total ban on non-essential use water in Worthington. 

“We’re also getting into the spring shower time, too,” Hain said. “It’s going to be critical that we at least get normal spring time precipitation in order to give us a chance of getting back to that average level.”

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.

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