The 2023 open water season on the TFF will be remembered for water levels that were influenced by outside factors during much of the summer season. The spring refill, elevation of 1571.50, was achieved on April 20th, in compliance with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that governs how TFF water levels are managed.
For the “open-water” season, the high water level of 1,571.82 was on May 2nd. The low water level, 1,569.20, (-2.8 feet) was on September 5th and ran through September 21st.
Unfortunately, again this year we suffered drought conditions over the entire TFF watershed. The U.S. Drought Monitor maps showed our area was in a MODERATE drought classification from early-July through mid-August when we moved into a SEVERE drought classification where we remain.
The lack of precipitation starting in July was evident as water levels started to decline against target levels, but remained close to last year’s levels through mid-August (when we moved into the SEVERE drought classification.)
Another factor that added to this year’s water levels challenges was some late spring repair work on the Rest Lake Dam, upstream in Manitowish Waters. Because of that work, the MW chain did not get refilled as usual. After the repairs were completed, water that usually would flow down into the TFF was kept to help refill the MW Chain.
Discharge from the TFF Dam was moderate throughout the season. Xcel Energy reduced discharge to mid-summer levels about a month earlier than last year, and discharge was further reduced in both mid-August and in late-September.
The annual drawdown of the Manitowish Waters chain started early October and that “extra” water, along with some good fall rains, helped TFF water levels to recover to within 6” of full pool by early November.
The Water Level Committee continues to meet with both the Wisconsin DNR and Xcel Energy 3-4 times per year concerning water management issues in the TFF watershed.
Finally, like other TFF-TL POA committees, the Water Level committee is looking to add a couple of new members. Current members plan to continue for another year or so, but it makes sense to add new members now so they can gain experience and knowledge about water level issues. If you have an interest in serving on the Water Level Committee, please email the Association at: TFFTrude @gmail.com