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Despite Historically Wet 2019, Experts Don’t Expect Flood Issues On Wisconsin River

Dan Dumas/Kim Swisher Communications

Last year was the wettest year on record in the Wisconsin River basin.

That meant reservoirs were full, and challenging spring weather could put stress on the system.

But the forecasts are looking better than anticipated.

The Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company manages flows on the Wisconsin River and operates five dams on major reservoirs.

The company had to aggressively draw down water levels over the winter after last year’s record precipitation.

But company vice president of operations Peter Hansen said the spring, so far, has been manageable.

“Considering how we went into the winter, and our concerns for the spring, and the conference calls we were having with the River Forecast Center, and the risk factors that they were putting through the whole Midwest, it’s actually been really good,” Hansen said.

Too much precipitation or snowmelt in a short amount of time can strain the system and lead to flooding.

The Wisconsin River basin appears to be in good shape, unless there’s a major change in weather.

“I would say the next two weeks are still in that risk time before things get real green up in the Northwoods,” Hansen said. But, at least, the seven-day forecast does look good.”

You can monitor Northwoods reservoir levels on the company’s website.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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