Corps to lower Mississippi River levels in Minneapolis to conduct inspections

Published Oct. 2, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Mississippi River will look significantly different next week as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, prepares to conduct periodic inspections at two of its locks in Minneapolis.

Engineers are planning to conduct periodic inspections at Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam, both in downtown Minneapolis. These inspections involve engineers looking at a variety of things in and around a lock to ensure the structure is sound and can safely perform when needed. Much like routine maintenance on a car, these inspections help identify areas that could require additional reviews and maintenance. Understanding these areas allows Corps officials to request and receive the necessary funds before a problem becomes a major issue. The last periodic inspections at these sites was completed in 2015.

The inspections will allow engineers to get a better look at facilities normally under water. The Corps closed this lock to navigation in 2015, but it is still used occasionally to reduce flood risk during floods.

In order to safely complete the inspections, engineers will open the dam gates at the lower lock to allow the river level between the upper and lower lock to drop from its current elevation of 750 feet to a level around 738 feet. The river levels upstream of Upper St. Anthony Falls will not be affected. The drawdown is expected to begin Oct. 3. The plan is to reduce the water elevation by approximately 4 feet per day until reaching the target level, which is expected to occur Oct. 6. Engineers will hold the river level here for two days to allow for site inspections at both locks. River levels will gradually return to normal levels once the inspections are complete.

The Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam will be open to the public for viewing the river during this event. There will be knowledgeable park rangers and volunteers to help interpret the river and answer questions. The lock and dam wall will be open to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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Release no. 20-142