Water Center


Date of this Version



United States government work


The United States Geological Survey (USGS) performed multibeam echosounder hydrographic surveys of four narrows in the Namakan reservoir system in August 2011, in cooperation with the International Joint Commission and Environment Canada. The data-collection effort was completed to provide updated and detailed hydrographic data to Environment Canada for inclusion in a Hydrologic Engineering Centers River Analysis System hydraulic model. The Namakan reservoir system is composed of Namakan, Kabetogama, Sand Point, Crane, and Little Vermilion Lakes. Water elevations in the Namakan reservoir system are regulated according to rule curves, or guidelines for water-level management based on the time of year, established by the International Joint Commission. Water levels are monitored by established gages on Crane Lake and the outlet of Namakan Lake at Kettle Falls, but water elevations throughout the system may deviate from these measured values by as much as 0.3 meters, according to lake managers and residents. Deviations from expected water elevations may be caused by between-lake constrictions (narrows). According to the 2000 Rule Curve Assessment Workgroup, hydrologic models of the reservoir system are needed to better understand the system and to evaluate the recent changes made to rule curves in 2000.

Hydrographic surveys were performed using a RESON SeaBat7125 multibeam echosounder system. Surveys were completed at Namakan Narrows, Harrison Narrows, King Williams Narrows, and Little Vermilion Narrows. Hydrographic survey data were processed using Caris HIPS and SIPS software that interpolated a combined uncertainty and bathymetric estimator (CUBE) surface. Quality of the survey results was evaluated in relation to standards set by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) for describing the uncertainty of hydrographic surveys. More than 90 percent of the surveyed areas at the four narrows have resulting bed elevations that meet the IHO “Special Order” quality. Survey datasets published in this report are formatted as text files of x-y-z coordinates and as CARIS Spatial ArchiveTM (CSARTM) files with corresponding metadata.