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St. Cloud shuts down hydroelectric dam for the first time since 1988

It's the first time the facility has closed due to low river flow since 1988.
Mississippi River near the St. Cloud Water Treatment Plant.

The City of St. Cloud is shutting down its hydroelectric dam for the first time in more than 30 years amid the state’s severe drought conditions.

Last week, the city announced the St. Cloud Hydroelectric Generation Facility would be fully shut down due to low flows on the Mississippi River for the first time since 1988.

The facility normally produces 3.5 million kWh in August, which is enough to power more than 450 homes for a year. But with flow on the Mississippi now less than 600 cubic feet per second, the production capability of the dam was significantly reduced, according to the announcement.

The city cited the state’s severe drought conditions, which now affect 88.3% of the state, including 49.8% in extreme drought and 8.1% in exceptional drought. Extreme drought conditions cover the eastern half of Stearns County and all of Benton County. 

The conditions are also fueling growing wildfires across northern Minnesota.

In response to the drought, many municipalities are putting restrictions on water usage. In St. Cloud, residents are largely limited to watering their lawns once a week. 

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