Reservoir drawdown makes room for runoff

The Caldron Falls Reservoir Dam in northern Marinette County
The Caldron Falls Reservoir Dam in northern Marinette County

MARINETTE COUNTY - A drawdown at a Marinette County flowage is designed to help manage the spring meltdown.

Wisconsin Public Service began releasing water from the Caldron Falls Reservoir Dam Friday.

From the top of the dam at Caldron Falls Reservoir, the drawdown is underway.

"Right above where you see the water bubbling there, that's about what the normal level would be," said Pete Swanson, Crivitz.

Swanson and his daughter Tatiana visited Caldron Falls Dam Friday.

"I think there's a lot of water coming out of there, wow," said Swanson.

At one-half inch per hour, the reservoir is shrinking.

Wisconsin Public Service owns the dam. Every year the utility releases the water to make room for melting snow.

The level is scheduled to drop six feet over the next week or so.

"It doesn't seem like it's that much, but it's six feet in the water level, which could mean 20, 30, 40 feet from shore," said Kerry Spees, WPS Spokesperson.

And there's all that snow and ice on this thousand-acre flowage.

"Water is dropping, but the ice may not drop as fast, creating some very unsafe conditions. They need to be off the ice there on Caldron," said Spees.

"We don't usually come out here, once they draw down," said Lois Miller, Mishicot.

Lois and Jim Miller are ice fishing here for the first and possibly only time this year.

"We caught some crappies, that are decent size, and some eensy, teensy little perch," said Miller.

Miller says the ice here is still plenty thick.

"My husband drilled all the way to the bottom of the auger, which I believe is about three feet," said Miller.

Meanwhile water continues to swirl downstream. Pete Swanson says he hopes for a slow melt.

"If it gets warm fast, we're going to have runoff in a hurry, and it will be really necessary to get the water drawn down here, so it has somewhere to go," said Swanson.

"We're not getting the big warm temperatures, which none of us are very happy about, but it's good in terms of letting water pass down through the rivers very calmly," said Spees.

Public Service says the flowage will fill in on its own. They say the levels usually get back to normal in plenty of time for the opening of the fishing season.