Minnesota waters are moving fast; boaters should be cautious
Water levels in lakes and rivers around Minnesota are expected to remain high during the Fourth of July holiday, so the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging boaters to slow down and use caution.
A no-wake zone is in effect on the St. Croix River from Taylors Falls to Prescott, Wis. In Hennepin County, both Fish Lake and Medicine Lake have declared high water.
"People should always wear their lifejackets every time they step on a boat and especially during high water," said Kara Owens, DNR boating safety specialist. "High water levels mean a fast and strong moving current, which many boat operators are not used to. That can create dangerous situations."
There is a lot of debris floating down the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers so that adds another element of danger.
"Debris will often float just at or below the surface," Owens said. "Hitting a log at high speed could result in anything from a broken propeller to a ruined lower unit -- or worse, serious injuries to those who wanted to enjoy a day on the water."
Boaters must always be aware of their surroundings. Fast river currents are more unforgiving and boaters have less of a time to react to a problem, she added.
The swift current also makes it more difficult for even an experienced swimmer to swim or stay afloat if their boat or canoe capsized.
Anyone heading out on the water should let someone know where they are going and when they expect to return from their trip.
During periods of high water on lakes and rivers, boaters also need to slow down and make sure their wakes are small.
A large wake could not only disrupt other boaters and swimmers, but also cause erosion along the shoreline. It can create safety concerns, damage to boats and other problems from deadheads and snags, shoreline property loss, reduced water quality and damage to fish and wildlife habitat.
For more information on boating safety go to http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/boatwater/index.html.