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Open Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock Helps Ease Flooding on Mississippi River

Updated: 06/25/2014 6:39 AM
Created: 06/24/2014 8:02 PM KSTP.com
By: Tim Sherno

Minnesota is still in the grip of flooding, with three major metro rivers climbing toward a crest.

Mike DeRusha says he's worked along the banks of the Mississippi River since 1994. DeRusha is the lockmaster at the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock, where the recent flooding has prompted big changes.

Normally, the lock is a tranquil side-show to the mighty Mississippi, but because the river is well above flood stage, the lock has joined the fast flowing river with the gates wide open.

DeRusha says opening the gates is a rare event.

"This is only the sixth time we've had water passing through the chamber up here," he said.

The massive doors at both ends of the lock are currently bolted open. DeRusha says securing the doors guards against possible damage caused by the swift water.

"If it grabbed one of those gates, it would slam them shut, and it wouldn't be good," DeRusha said.

With the doors open, DeRusha says he estimates roughly 48,300 cubic feet of water per second is rushing through the open lock.

"Let 'er rip! And try to pass as much flow as we can to lessen everything above us," he said.

With the lock open and free flowing, DeRusha says the open lock helps ease pooling water upstream.

"We're dropping the actual height of the pool by about a foot," he said.

 


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