Push to get Shawano Lake back to water levels of 30 years ago

Shawano's Lake Association pushes to get the levels back to normal
Shawano's Lake Association pushes to get the levels back to normal(WBAY)
Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 7:03 PM CDT
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SHAWANO, Wis. (WBAY) - Shawano Lake’s low water levels have been a concern to some since 2015. Officials with Shawano Area Waterways Management say they have never seen water levels this low.

Action 2 News has been following this story for years as this has been a continuous issue. An agreement keeps the levels at 802.9 feet mean sea level in the summer months, and lowering the water to 802.5 feet mean sea level in the fall through the spring. Wisconsin DNR officials say there are two reasons it’s lower than normal: the lack of rain and the Eagle Creek Dam. Currently, Shawano’s Lake Association says the level is half a foot lower than the range agrees upon, which they say is concerning.

“So the issue is at this point in time is the exemption states if you change the lower level and if you change the upper levels, so you adjust the range, you have to get approval for that. We’re not recommending that. We just want to change the normal level, the target value within that range,” said Bill Monfre of the Shawano Area Waterways Management Board of Directors.

Officials say they are meeting with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) next week to request that Shawano Lake operate at 802.9 feet, where it’s been for 30 years.

“We’re not saying change the lower level; we’re not saying change the upper level. We’re saying keep the range the same, but that four-tenths of a foot, which is 4.8 inches, makes a huge difference,” Monfre said.

“I think if they continue to seek a permanent amendment to the lake levels then, you know, this really wouldn’t be an issue anymore,” said Secretary’s Director Jean Romback-Bartels with the Wisconsin DNR.

For three years now, FERC has approved temporary orders to raise the water levels. Monfre says the push is to get the change made permanent or for a longer period.

“So this year, we propose to go forward with a five-year amendment to leave it at 802.9 year-round and that would be a satisfactory interim step,” Monfre said.

“Hopefully we can still have a good summer of tourism and recreating out on Shawano Lake and work towards longer-term solutions, whether that’s marking buoys as to where the shallow areas are, but really just being vigilant and being safe out there,” Romback-Bartels explained.

Officials with Shawano Area Waterways Management say if the levels do not change, it will hurt tourism in Shawano County.

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