Nelson Lake Drawdown
Hopefully this article will answer your questions about the planned Drawdown.
- Drawdown will start September 15, 2020.
The Drawdown needs to start early enough to obtain the target level in time for the Township to perform the needed repairs at the landings before the lake freezes. It may take about a week for the water to drop after each stop log is removed, so 4ft drawdown May take up to 4 weeks. That only leaves a couple weeks for the Township to complete needed work before freeze-up.
- The lake will lower about 14 inches per week.
Each stop log is about 14 inches and one will be removed each week until the target level is obtained. The first day after the log is removed will see the fastest water drop. As the water lowers the flow will slow down until the next log is removed.
- The drawdown target is 4ft below normal water gauge level by October 15th.
At 4ft below normal water level enough of the concrete slabs at the landings will be exposed so the hooks can be reached and the slabs can be moved. Also 4ft will expose most of the weed growth covering the shallow spawning beds. As the ice freezes to a normal thickness of 30-36 inches any weed growth not exposed to the air will also be frozen so the freeze should go beyond 5ft, which is the depth that most weed growth stops due to the dark water in Nelson Lake.
- Refill target is April 15, 2021, before spawning season at Ice-Out.
The average date of ice-off is around April 20th, and spawning begins the first week of open water. To refill by April 15th the raising of the water will begin about mid March. This will create some open water along the shorelines so access to the ice will end earlier than most years.
- Property owners must have all boats off their lifts by September 15, 2020.
This date is important because the water level will drop quickly when the first stop log is removed, making it very difficult to get a boat off a lift. Please plan to remove your boats early. Don’t even wait until the next day because that could be too late.
- Lifts and docks requiring pontoon forklift should also be removed by September 15, 2020.
Some property owners hire a service that uses a pontoon boat with a forklift to move their lift or dock from the water to the shore for the winter. After September 15th the water will become too low for that service to operate. Please schedule that service early so they can do the work you need accomplished.
- Do not leave docks or lifts in the lake over winter, ice damage could occur during refill.
This means that ice will still be on the water as the lake is refilled, so some movement of the ice is possible due to wind currents. If the ice comes into your shoreline it could cause significant damage to any dock or lift not removed in the fall. Please remove your docks and lifts in the fall as you normally would on years with normal water levels. Don’t be tempted to leave them in with the water low.
- County will inspect the dam structure and stop logs.
The dam and stop logs have never been inspected since they were initially installed. It’s fair to say that a good inspection is due. We don’t want to see either fail and cause the lake to dry up until repairs can be made.
- Boat landing repairs are planned while water is low before freeze up.
You may have noticed that some of the concrete slabs have shifted out, especially at the Park landing. This is due to people unloading or loading their boats by powering them off or on the trailer with the boat motor (power loading). It washes out the soil structure under the slabs causing them to slide. It’s much better to use the wench when loading a boat and manually push the boat off the trailer when unloading. When the water is at normal level it’s very difficult to attach the hooks and move the slabs back into position. The slabs at the Park landing may have to be removed so the structure can be repaired before placing them back into position. This can only be done when the water is low.
- Jolly Fisherman Road may be closed for about one day when water gets low enough to remove and replace a culvert. Signs will be posted to inform residents. This depends on State approval of the work schedule.
This work by the township is dependent on obtaining court approval to complete it later than required by the DNR directive. The court hearing has yet to be scheduled. At normal level the lake water is high enough that a dam would be required to keep lake water out of the excavation area. But with low water during the drawdown a dam is not needed for lake water so the work can be completed faster.
- Extra caution will be needed when driving or snowmobiling on the ice due to exposed stumps in some areas.
Snow cover will make it very difficult to see stumps protruding above the ice. Any travel on the ice is at your own risk. The Snowmobile trails on the lake will be marked as usual and any hazards will be identified. Trails should be carefully followed. Water level will be stable before ice forms on the lake.
- Fishing regulations will not change.
Fishing regulations will not be changed during the winter drawdown. Ice fishing will still be allowed during the drawdown. While fish may concentrate more in deep holes, angling regulations are believed to be sufficiently restrictive to prevent over-harvest.