Lake Freeman’s water level once again has been lowered to accommodate endangered mussels, such as the rabbitsfoot, in the Tippecanoe River. (Photo: Provided by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources )
Lake Freeman’s water level once again has been lowered to accommodate endangered mussels, such as the rabbitsfoot, in the Tippecanoe River. (Photo: Provided by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources )
Frustration is brewing among some Monticello residents as Lake Freeman’s water level once again has been lowered to accommodate endangered mussels in Tippecanoe River.

During a 2012 summer drought, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a standing mandate to NIPSCO — which operates Oakdale Dam on the southern end of Lake Freeman — to maintain water flow from the lake into the Tippecanoe River when the river level reaches a certain low point.

Last week, the river level again reached that threshold, triggering NIPSCO to discharge water into the river. The lake was as much as a foot and a half below normal over the weekend and was still a foot below normal Tuesday.

“We’re experiencing a similar situation (to 2012) currently,” NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer said. “The lake level right now at the base of the dam is about a foot below normal operating level. Once the lake level gets back to normal, we’ll get back into more of a normal operating level.”

The reaction from lake residents and business owners is much the same as it was in 2012. They fear how the dropping lake level will affect the local economy, shallow wells and eventually property values.

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