WAUSAU, WI (WXPR) - The water levels within the Wisconsin River reservoirs is different depending on whether you are in the northern or southern part of the river.
The agency controlling Wisconsin River flow...the Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company in Wausau...reports things are slightly better in the north than last year, but not by much.
W.V.I.C. operations manager Peter Hansen says looks are deceiving. There has been more snow this year, but it's just slightly above normal snow levels. “We’re expecting to be able to fill up our Spirit Reservoir and the Eau Plaine Reservoir, but we don’t expect that the Rainbow and Lake Nokomis/Rice Reservoir will be completely full this spring.”
Hansen says they automatically draw down the reservoirs in the winter to leave room for the spring runoff. “They’re down even more than they are in the fall. We’re in the process now of doing what’s called our spring refill, where we are at our minimum gate openings that we’re allowed to have, and that’s helping us to refill each of our reservoirs.”
Hansen says much of this region's environment is very dependent on ample moisture. “We’re in about a nine or ten year drought, and we need to get some above (average) precipitation to help pull out of that, but it’s going to take numerous consecutive years of above-normal precipitation to pull us out of this drought.”
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor results show north and west of a line from LaCrosse to Florence shows Wisconsin to be in a moderate to severe drought.