Water Level Decisions & Data

Water Level Decisions

As per the current Order, the Water Levels Committee monitors hydrologic conditions and may provide the Companies with directions for the operation of their discharge facilities at Namakan Lake and Rainy River. Below are directions and updates provided by the Water Levels Committee.


May 17th, 2022

Namakan Lake level is 341.636 m (1120.85 ft), 9.4 cm (3.7 in) above the 2014 peak. With additional rain in the near-term forecast, inflow to Namakan Lake is expected to remain high this month. Record levels may be reached or exceeded with continued wet weather.

Rainy Lake is level is 338.441 m (1110.37 ft), 30 cm (11.8 in) below the 2014 peak. With additional rain in the near-term forecast, inflow to Rainy Lake is expected to remain high this month.

For recent flood information and forecasts, please refer to the National Weather Service and Province of Ontario websites.


May 13th, 2022

Heavy precipitation the night of May 12 resulted in 50-100 mm (2-4 in) of accumulated precipitation in the Namakan and Rainy Lake basins.

Namakan Lake has risen 7.4 cm (~3 in) to 341.31 m (1119.78 ft), which is 21 cm (8.2 in) above the All Gates Open level.

Rainy Lake has risen 7.7 cm (~3.1 in) to 338.196 m (1109.57 ft), which is  29.6 cm (11.6 in) above the All Gates Open level.

The USGS Rainy River at Manitou Rapids gage has risen 30 cm (12 in) as of 12:30 CT May 13.

For forecast details please refer to the National Weather Service and Province of Ontario websites.  


May 11th, 2022

The current lake level of Namakan Lake is 341.17 m (1119.1 ft), 7 cm (2.8 in) above the All Gates Open level. The dams at Namakan Lake have been fully open since April 26. Namakan lake has risen by  48 cm (19 in) over the past 7 days and is expected to continue to rise for the next 7 days. If the week is relatively dry, the level rise should slow.  For forecast details please refer to the National Weather Service and Province of Ontario websites.  

The current lake level of Rainy Lake is 338.06 m (1109.0 ft), 16 cm (6.3 in) above the All Gates Open level. The gates at the Fort Frances-International Falls dam have been fully opened since May 5. Rainy lake has risen by 33 cm (13 in) over the past 7 days and is expected to continue to rise for the next 7 days. For forecast details please refer to the National Weather Service and Province of Ontario websites.

Due to the extremely high flow conditions across the watershed, water levels will likely remain high over the coming weeks. How high these lakes get and how long the high water lasts will depend on the rainfall received. Areas that have been negatively affected by past high water events on these lakes should make preparations accordingly.


May 4th, 2022

The dam at Rainy Lake has 14 of the 15 gates open as of May 4. All 15 gates are scheduled to be opened tomorrow (May 5).


May 3rd, 2022

April was the wettest on record for the Rainy-Namakan basin.  The past weekend saw an additional in 15 mm (~0.6 in.) of precipitation over the subbasin and flows continue to rise across most of the region.

Namakan Lake rose by 30 cm (12 in) over the past week, and is expected to continue rising at  rapid rate. Namakan Lake dams remain fully open. The lake will likely rise above the All Gates open level next week.

Rainy Lake also rose by 30 cm (10 in) over the past week. The dam operators continue to open gates as the lake rises, with 12 of 15 gates open as of May 2. The lake is expected to continue to rise and will likely pass the All Gates open level next week.

The lakes will stop rising only when the rate of inflow matches the outflow. When that happens will depend on the precipitation. High lake levels are likely to develop if the coming weeks see wet weather.


April 27th, 2022

The winter of 2021-2022 brought the basin an average 6" of Snow Water Equivalent. The snowpack had not melted as of the precipitation event of 22-23 April. In some areas 3.5" of rain was added to the snow water on the ground. The basin is running off fast as a result. 

Due to quickly rising inflow, Rainy Lake and Namakan Lake have risen above their respective rule curves.

All logs were pulled from sluices at the Namakan Lake dams on April 26. The lake level is expected to continue to rise under the high flow conditions.

At Rainy Lake, all canal gates and four of the dam gates have been opened, maximizing the outflow from the lake for the current lake level. More gates will be opened as the lake rises allowing additional flow to be passed. The lake is expected to continue to rise over the next week.

The large increase in outflow from Rainy Lake, combined with extremely high flows out of tributaries such as the Little Fork River and Big Fork River, have resulted in very high levels along the Rainy River. Some of these tributaries have crested but Rainy River flows are expected to remain high in the coming days.

 The IJC’s Water Levels Committee is closely monitoring the conditions on these lakes and along the Rainy River and will provide updates on conditions as the high water develops.  


April 25th, 2022

A rapid increase in water flows into lakes and rivers is developing across the basin. The outflow at Namakan Lake has increased to ~280 cms. Rainy Lake outflow has increased to ~740 cms.

Lake and river water levels are expected to rise very quickly with ice cover becoming unstable. Exercise caution when on or near water bodies. The WLC is regularly reviewing basin conditions and will update targets accordingly.


April 13th, 2022

The WLC provided the following direction to operators based on review of current conditions. At Rainy Lake, target 25%-75% of band, at Namakan Lake to target 25%-75% of band.

The WLC will continue to follow conditions closely and may update these targets accordingly.


March 10th, 2022

The WLC has elected to not employ the High Flood Risk Rule Curve this spring. A formal press release of the Rule Curve Decision is found at this link.

Additionally, the WLC has provided the following direction to operators based on review of conditions and feedback from participants at the March 3, 2022 Pre-Spring Engagement Meeting. At Rainy Lake, continue to target 25%-75% of band while also targeting a March 31 level between 336.90 m and 337.0 m. The WLC also provided direction at Namakan Lake to target a March 31 level between 339.65m and 339.8 m.

The WLC will continue to follow conditions closely and may update these targets accordingly.


February 10th, 2022

The Water Levels Committee has directed the Companies to begin targeting the mid-band (25%-75%) for both Rainy and Namakan Lakes.


 November 5th, 2021

The Rainy Lake of the Woods Watershed continues to experience severe drought conditions throughout the basin. Rainy Lake and Namakan Lake levels are currently within the rule curves.  The WLC has directed the dam operators to target the upper portion of the respective rule curves for Namakan Lake and Rainy Lake. The Water Levels Committee is meeting regularly to review conditions and forecasts during the fall and winter period and will adjust targets accordingly.


September 10th, 2021

The Rainy Lake of the Woods Watershed continues to experience extreme drought conditions throughout the basin. Lake levels continue to decline throughout the season in the absence of sufficient precipitation. Recently, Rainy Lake has fallen below the drought line (337.2m). The WLC is directing a reduction in flows from the dam at International Falls-Fort Frances to 85 cms (3,000 cfs) starting Saturday, September 11. Further reductions may be made to as low as 65 cms (2,300 cfs) based on future basin conditions and forecasts.


 August 20th , 2021

The Rainy Lake of the Woods Watershed continues to experience extreme drought conditions throughout the basin. Lake levels continue to decline throughout the season in the absence of sufficient precipitation. In recent weeks, lake levels fell below the minimum elevation outlined in the WLC’s Supplementary Order, triggering a decision to reduce outflow from the Namakan Chain of Lakes into Rainy Lake to 30 m3/s (1060 cfs) instantaneous, and reduce the outflow from the dam at International Falls-Fort Frances to 100 m3/s (3,530 cfs) instantaneous.   

Without much precipitation in the forecast, the WLC expects the Rainy Lake level may further decline below the drought line (337.2m) near the end of August. When this occurs, the WLC may further reduce flows from the dam at International Falls-Fort Frances to as low as 65 m3/s (2,300 cfs) instantaneous to conserve stored water. For context, this reduction would result in river levels dropping by approximately 25 cm (10 in) at Manitou Rapids. The last time Rainy Lake outflow was reduced to this rate was in 2007. 


 May 19th , 2021

The Water Levels Committee has directed the Companies to maintain a relatively constant outflow from Rainy Lake over the next week in order to minimize risk of dewatering of sturgeon eggs along the Rainy River. Active spawning has been observed downstream of the dam at International Falls over the past week.

Under a protocol on sturgeon spawning created a number of years ago, the Water Levels Committee commits to adjusting regulation of Rainy Lake outflow to protect sturgeon spawning during periods of declining or slowly increasing inflow to Rainy Lake. This is undertaken on the understanding that the Order, safety, and structural issues take precedence over maintaining stable river flows.

Partners to the protocol on sturgeon spawning include the International Falls and Baudette offices of the Minnesota DNR, Fort Frances District OMNRF, Rainy River First Nation, PCA, and H2O Power. See link for more information on the protocol.


May 12th ,  2021

The Water Levels Committee has directed the Companies to maintain a relatively constant outflow from Rainy Lake over the next week in order to minimize risk of dewatering of sturgeon eggs along the Rainy River. Active spawning has been observed at Manitou Rapids over the past week.

Under a protocol on sturgeon spawning created a number of years ago, the Water Levels Committee commits to adjusting regulation of Rainy Lake outflow to protect sturgeon spawning during periods of declining or slowly increasing inflow to Rainy Lake. This is undertaken on the understanding that the Order, safety, and structural issues take precedence over maintaining stable river flows.

Partners to the protocol on sturgeon spawning include the International Falls and Baudette offices of the Minnesota DNR, Fort Frances District OMNRF, Rainy River First Nation, PCA, and H2O Power. See link for more information on the protocol.


March 18th, 2021

The Water Levels Committee has decided that given the prolonged dry conditions it would be prudent to set operations that assist with refill.  The Committee is directing that the level of Namakan Lake target the upper 50% of the Rule Curve band and that the level of Rainy Lake target the middle 50% of the Rule Curve band.  These directives are effective for the period of April 1 to 30, 2021, unless directed otherwise by the Water Levels Committee.


April 7th , 2020

The Water Levels Committee met today to review basin conditions and forecasts. Based on the quick depletion of the snowpack in much of the basin, a modest response in freshet flows, and a relatively dry forecast for the next two weeks, the Committee directed the dam operators to target the middle portion (25% to 75%) of the respective Rule Curves for Namakan Lake and Rainy Lake by May 1. 


March 17th , 2020

Based on current conditions (snow pack, base flows, winter temperatures) and forecasts, the Water Levels Committee has directed the Companies to target between 25% and 50% of the Rule Curve bands for both Namakan Lake and Rainy Lake as of April 1. The Water Levels Committee is meeting regularly to review conditions and forecasts during the freshet period and will adjust targets accordingly.


June 21st 2019

The Water Levels Committee has directed the Companies to resume normal operations at Rainy Lake, following the standard Rule Curve. Under the Sturgeon Protocol, Rainy Lake outflow was unchanged since May 31st, providing stable flows to the Rainy River through the active spawning and incubation phase of the Lake Sturgeon.


May 31st  2019

The Water Levels Committee has directed the Companies to maintain a relatively constant outflow from Rainy Lake over the next week in order to minimize risk of dewatering of sturgeon eggs along the Rainy River. Active spawning has been observed at Manitou Rapids and Long Sault Rapids over the past week.

Under a protocol on sturgeon spawning created a number of years ago, the Water Levels Committee commits to adjusting regulation of Rainy Lake outflow to protect sturgeon spawning during periods of declining or slowly increasing inflow to Rainy Lake. This is undertaken on the understanding that the Order, safety, and structural issues take precedence over maintaining stable river flows.

Partners to the protocol on sturgeon spawning include the International Falls and Baudette offices of the Minnesota DNR, Fort Frances District OMNRF, Rainy River First Nation, PCA, and H2O Power. See link for more information on the protocol.


May 2nd 2019

The Water Levels Committee has directed the Companies to begin targeting the lower 50% of the standard Rule Curve range effective today.


April 25th 2019

The Water Levels Committee has been the decision to return to the standard rule curve on Rainy Lake. It has directed the Companies to begin targeting the mid-band (25%-75%) of the Namakan Lake Rule Curve and the 0-25% range of the standard Rainy Lake Rule Curve by Tuesday, May 7th.


April 23rd 2019

The Water Levels Committee has requested that an additional attempt to add spill be carried out by incrementally opening canal gates on the stable headpond level to secure the greatest outflow without compromising mill operations.


April 19th 2019

Three gates were opened at the International Dam on April 18th to maintain the lake level within the directed range. Due to an emergency at the PCA mill, the gates were closed and the reduced outflow from Rainy Lake caused water levels to rise above the directed level range.


April 11th 2019

The Water Levels Committee determined that the risk of flooding at this time is reduced but still exists. The Companies are directed to target the upper 50% of the high flood risk rule curve on Rainy Lake.


March 11th 2019

The Water Levels Committee has issued a press release regarding its decision to target the High Flood Risk Rule Curve this spring.


March 7th 2019

The Water Levels Committee directed the operators to target the middle portion (25%-75% band) of the high flood risk rule curve band for Rainy Lake as of April 1st.


Water Levels Data

Daily lake level, inflow and outflow plots, courtesy of Canadian Lake of the Woods Control Board:

Namakan Lake

Rainy Lake 

Other data sources:

International Rainy and Namakan Lakes Rule Curve Study Board Fact Sheets:

Videos on Rainy Lake outflow control