Local group hopes to address water level variance

Photo by Chad Koenen
A rock rapids dam was installed on the east end of West Leaf Lake in January of 2022. Members of the Leaf Lakes Association Board is hoping to install a similar dam on the east end of East Leaf Lake in rural Henning. 

By Chad Koenen


With the recent success of a new rock rapids system on West Leaf Lake, members of the Leaf Lakes Association Board of Directors are hoping a similar system can help to regulate decreasing water levels on East and Middle Leaf Lakes. The rock rapids system on West Leaf Lake was installed in early 2022, which replaced a failing dam that was 85-years-old. 

Jack Lynch, who is the president of the Leaf Lakes Association Board, said the association is hoping to install a rock rapids system on Leaf River on the east end of East Leaf Lake. The hope was a similar rock rapids system will help to regulate the large water level swings on Middle and East Leaf Lakes moving forward. 

“The rock rapids on West Leaf works and it works well,” said Lynch. “West Leaf maintains (water levels) pretty good. It doesn’t have a massive drop. You go on Middle and East (Leaf Lakes) and it fluctuates 1, 2, or 3 feet.”

Lynch said the area has been in a drought over the past few years, but at the same time, property owners have noticed a dramatic decrease in water levels on the Middle and East Leaf Lakes. That drop in water level, and having such a high fluctuation in water levels, creates problems for property owners who have to pull their boats off the lake sooner each year, while also affecting invasive species in the lake. 

As opposed to conventional dams, Lynch said the Minnesota DNR prefers rock rapids as a way to allow fish to pass from one body of water to another.

“It would allow for fish passage,” said Lynch of the potential rock rapids on East Leaf Lake.

In order to gather input from the community, as well as the Minnesota DNR and the Soil and Water Conservation District, the Leaf Lakes Association Board will hold a community input meeting on Thursday, Oct. 26 at 10:30 a.m. at the Leaf Lake Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public and comes at an important time for the lake association as zebra mussels were recently discovered near the public access on East Leaf Lake. 

The meeting will also give the local lake association an opportunity to learn of potential grants to complete studies on the installation of a rock rapids system on East Leaf Lake, something Lynch said is quite costly.