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US CORPS OF ENGINEERS

      BIG SANDY RIVER DAM 2009 PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDY STREETER
About The ROPE Study

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S Forest Service have embarked on a jointly sponsored, long-range operating plan study for the Mississippi River Headwaters reservoirs called Reservoir Operating Plan Evaluation, or ROPE.

The primary purpose of the study is to evaluate alternative plans and to recommend a new operating plan for the Mississippi Headwaters Reservoirs system with consideration given to tribal trust, flood control, environmental concerns, water quality, water supply, recreation, navigation, hydropower and more. The plan should provide the optimum benefit to the many interests affected by the operation of these headwaters dams for the greater public good. Some possible outcomes could be lake level changes, winter draw-down changes, restoration of some sections of river systems, a more natural flow release for downstream river reach and, in some lake areas, changes in flood control concerns for differing sections of the total system and possibly even the purchase of some land for maximizing efficient operation.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Ottertail Power and Minnesota Power are collaborating headwaters dam operators included in this planning effort and will be helping evaluate and recommend a system wide operational plan for the headwaters reservoirs. The Mississippi Headwater Board and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwa will also be playing important roles in this study by helping to coordinate and evaluate alternative plans from the regional perspective. It began in December 2001 and will continue for the next four years.

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