- Associated Press - Thursday, June 19, 2014

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Minn. (AP) - Engineers at the International Falls Dam are working to keep floodwater from interrupting operations at a paper mill in town.

Rushing water blasting through spillways and wheels at the dam is threatening the Boise Inc. mill’s massive generators. If the generators are flooded, the mill could be shut down for weeks.

Engineers cranked open area dams that control the levels on Rainy Lake and Rainy River when heavy rain pushed water past flood stage. With more rain in the forecast, engineers may close a few spillways to restrict flows from the lake into the river. That could help protect operations at the paper mill.

Matt DeWolfe, an engineering adviser to the International Lake of the Woods Watershed Board, said until engineers tested it earlier this week, they were just guessing it would work. Engineers closed just two of the 15 spillways which stretch from the Boise powerhouse to generators on the Canadian side for two hours on Tuesday. DeWolfe said it worked, drawing down the river by a few inches, according to Minnesota Public Radio (http://bit.ly/1pj8pts ).

Experts said slowing the flows on the river with water this high is a risk because holding back water in Rainy Lake could threaten lakeside property owners. Seventy-five homes are currently surrounded by sandbags.

“Every inch this lake goes up is a peril for someone,” International Falls Mayor Bob Anderson said.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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