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Lake levels creep to just under average ahead of fishing opener

The Minnesota DNR says they have been advising people on how to reconfigure docks to have their boats access deeper water levels.

MINNETONKA, Minn. — For decades, Gabriel Jabbour’s kept a close eye on lake levels. The owner of Tonka Bay Marina has to—it's his livelihood.

"Every time it rains I check it," Jabbour said. "We are 2/10 of a foot below normal height today."

Even so, lake levels are much better than last fall, in the throes of a drought. Low water levels meant boats faced damage. 

"You get a lot of people running on the rocks, a lot of damaged boats, a lot of damage running gear, which is under the boat that propels the boat forward," Jabbour said. "In the fall, we were very concerned that the lake has dropped substantially and may not recoup."

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Thankfully, things are looking up. Taylor Huinker, a hydrologist for the Minnesota DNR, says levels are recovering.

"Water levels have been increasing since the drought we saw last year," Huinker said. "So far it is a good trend that they are recovering."

Huinker says she's still taking lots of calls from people needing to reconfigure their docks so their boats can safely access the water at deeper levels.

"So it’s been a lot of coordination with people and doing that and letting them know what’s allowable," she said.

Huinker also wants to remind people to keep native plants by the shoreline intact.

"Areas that maybe aren't used to seeing wave action or maybe don't have a buffer, it's why we really encourage people to have native plants or plant buffers," she said. "If grass has really shallow roots, native plants have roots that are about four times as long and can really help old in that soil."

She also advises people to not mow down to the lake.

As the rain helps the lake levels rise, Minnesotans' expectations rise, too, for their favorite summer activity—boating.

"It's really, really important to Minnesota," Jabbour said. "We really live and die by that part of the season."

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