Lake Orono Restoration and Enhancement (LORE)

The Lake Orono Restoration and Enhancement (LORE) project will improve the outdoor recreational experience for those who live in, or visit Elk River in a variety of ways.The goal of the LORE project is to remove sediment and improve navigational depth in the lake.

Project Update: As of May 11, 2020, the City of Elk River has received enough support for the temporary drawdown of Lake Orono to move forward with the permit application from the Department of Natural Resources. Check back later this summer for more details about the timeline for the lake drawdown.

Please join us for a Shoreline Workshop!LORE_shoreline_social-01

You’ve invited to join the City of Elk River and the Sherburne Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) for the virtual Lake Orono Shoreline Workshop via Zoom on Wednesday, July 22 at 6:00 p.m. 

On June 1, City Council approved plans to move the Lake Orono Restoration and Enhancement (LORE) project forward, which will draw down the lake this fall through early spring 2021 at which time dredging will occur. 

The timeframe when the water level will be down offers the perfect opportunity for property owners to do their own shoreline improvements. The Lake Orono Shoreline Workshop will provide tips on shoreline enhancements, permit requirements and other valuable information to help plan your projects. Check back a few days before the workshop for the meeting link and call in directions. 

Want to learn more about lakeshore restoration and stewardship? Check out Anoka Conservation District’s video for helpful information. 

LORE Open House - Virtual Meeting

Using an abundance of caution, the Lake Orono Restoration and Enhancement (LORE) Open House was hosted as a virtual meeting on Wednesday, March 25. View a recording of the Virtual Open House here. 

Meeting Materials:
LORE Open House Presentation March 25, 2020

LORE Feasibility Summary May 15, 2020

Feel free to email city staff with specific questions about the LORE project.


Lake Orono, located entirely within the City of Elk River, is a shallow 300-acre lake that captures runoff from a large 611-square-mile watershed, located within the counties of Sherburne, Benton, Mille Lacs and Morrison. 

Over time, sediment from development, litter, runoff, and other factors begins to settle on the bottom of any water body. As this 

sediment continues to build upward, the aquatic health of the lake/pond can become threatened, thus requiring dredging to restore its natural bottom.

Lake Orono is a reservoir formed by a dam on the Elk River. The dam is located on the southeast side of the lake along Main Street. In 1998, the lake was drawn down and sediment was removed by dredging. It was predicted the lake would need to be dredged again in roughly 20 years - which brings us to 2020.

Project TimelineLake Orono Dam

In 2015, city staff began working with a group of Lake Orono property owners to update the Lake Orono Management Plan. On March 5, 2019 Governor Tim Walz signed a bill (HF 80) which included $1.5 million in grant funding to assist with the cost of dredging Lake Orono. The overall project is estimated to cost is estimated about $3.25 million. Additionally, $1 million will be funded through a local sales tax as part of Active Elk River. The remaining portion will be paid for by adjacent lakeshore property owners. 

Currently, city staff members are working with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure the proper permits are in place and the LORE meets all state and local regulations. The City has contracted with WSB & Associates to manage the design, contracts and the 429 assessment process. You may see WSB staff out on the lake completing surveys or investigating current conditions in the coming weeks or months. 

Before dredging can begin, a temporary drawdown of the lake is necessary which requires a permit from the Department of Natural Resources. The city proposes to complete the drawdown process by mid-September of 2020 and return the lake to normal levels by the spring of 2021. The lake will be lowered approximately four feet via the dam. Having the lake levels lowered during the winter months will allow for excavation when the ground is frozen. Additionally, this process may reduce invasive plant’s seed bank by freezing the exposed material. 

Community Impact

The overall goal of the LORE project is to remove sediment build up and ultimately improve the navigational depth of Lake Orono. In doing so, invasive plants are reduced, the health of aquatic wildlife is improved, and crews will also be able to add fish habitats before refilling the lake. 

For many years, the City of Elk River has had an award-winning water protection plan in place. To learn more, click here.