Current water levels
Mouse over the blue diamonds to see individual data point values.
*Note that the Google Chart doesn't always work on mobile - if you have issues, view on a computer
The DNR specifies that readings are to be taken at least once a week when the water is calm, and after major rain events. Our readings are taken more frequently, but not daily.
Water level measurements
Water level measurements are taken once a week when the lake is calm, and after heavy rains. The graph above, updated weekly, shows the measurements from the end of April to today. Measurements will continue until the lake freezes. .
No Wake ordinances
NOTE: The statewide lake level measurement volunteer network was established by the DNR. The volunteers who measure Lake Independence happen to be LICA members, but the measurement process is specified and managed by the DNR, not LICA.
Lake level monitoring
The Minnesota DNR Water Resources department manages the Lake Level Minnesota Monitoring Program which tracks the water surface levels at approximately 1,000 locations around the state, using a network of permanent and temporary water level gages. These gages measure the changes in water levels throughout the open water season. The program relies on more than 700 citizen volunteers and local government partners who regularly read the temporary lake level gages, record the measurements, and submit the data to the DNR. LICA members Dick and Pat Wulff are the volunteer monitors for Lake Independence.
Every spring, DNR Waters employees travel around the state to survey and reset the lake level gages. The temporary gages are fastened to a steel fence post and installed at convenient locations for the volunteer observers. The elevation of each gage is established each spring so water levels can be compared year-to-year. A “zero level” is established for each gage. The zero reading is added to a gage reading to reach the actual water surface reading.
Volunteer monitors are asked to read the gage and record the measurement at least once a week, and after a rain event. This data is then reported to the DNR to be compiled in their statewide database. Pat and Dick read the gage on their dock once a week when the water is quiet enough to get an accurate reading, and after a rain event. The cumulative readings are regularly posted on this page (SEE ABOVE).
The Slow No Wake ban, established by City of Medina and City of Independence ordinances, is activated whenever the actual reading reaches or exceeds 957.8 feet above sea level for three consecutive days. When this occurs, Pat Wulff notifies the Medina City Administrator, Scott Johnson. Scott coordinates with the City of Independence and Three Rivers’ Baker Park manager, and arranges to have an Official Notice published in the Crow River News. The ban goes into effect on the publication date. Notices are posted at the boat launches in Baker Park and Independence Beach.
More information on
lake level management
Many lake residents have expressed an interest in knowing more about how the lake level is managed. This is not a simple question - there is a long history of projects to control the lake level. Mike McLaughlin has written a detailed history of the lake level management projects. A PDF is available HERE.
Learning about Lake Levels
With this summer’s unusually high water, and the subsequent limitations on boat speed, there’s an increase in questions about water level history. The MN Dept of Natural Resources (DNR) has a wealth of information on the history of Minnesota lake levels. Recently LICA received a detailed explanation from the DNR. Here is an excerpt, courtesy of the DNR Lake Level MN Monitoring Program:
The DNR LakeFinder web site is the best means for the public to access available data on more than 4,500 Minnesota lakes relating to fisheries information, lake area and maximum depth, depth maps, lake water levels, air photos, and topographic maps. About 1,450 of the lakes have a historical record of more than 100 water level elevations. https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/index.html
The Lake Water Level report page contains information from reported data, including:
Reported historical and current lake levels
Period of record and number of readings
Highest recorded lake level
Highest known lake level
Lowest recorded lake level
Ordinary high water level [also shown as the red line on the 10-year graph]
Most recent 10-year graph [X-axis Year tick mark references mid-year]
Besides looking at the 10-yr graph, a LakeFinder website user can retrieve and view all the reported historic and current lake elevations for a specific lake where we have received lake level elevations.
The information and data for Lake Independence can be found here:
For detailed information on how to download data from the historic graphs, see this document: