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The U.S. Geological Survey gauging stations put the water levels on the Iowa Great Lakes at its highest since 1993. Although lake levels are far from 1993's record levels, there are concerns about shoreline erosion and property damage.
Dickinson County Emergency Management, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), lake protective associations and shoreline property owners are asking boaters to consider the effects of their boat wakes and slow down. Any boat traveling over 5 mph or greater than idle speed can cause damaging wakes on flooded shorelines.
Emergency Rules have been placed on the Iowa Great Lakes limiting boat speeds. Boaters are asked to travel at 5 mph or less on all areas of the lakes when possible.
“Boaters need to be aware of their wake and the damages they could cause to low shorelines and sensitive infrastructure,” said emergency management coordinator, Mike Ehret. “People are encouraged to enjoy the water, but to do it at a lower speed.”
Mike Hawkins, Iowa DNR fisheries biologist, said some shoreline areas are experiencing erosion. “Most erosion is likely occurring from saturated soils and wind and wave action, with some of those waves coming from boats,” says Hawkins.
“Enforcement of the emergency rules has been a challenge, and officers are working their best to respond to calls and concerns,” said Jeff Morrison, Iowa DNR conservation officer. Morrison explained that boaters need to use common sense and be courteous during this time. “With the holiday week upon us, there will be many people on the water enjoying the lakes. Plenty of activities can be enjoyed at speeds that limit your wake.”
Ehret, Morrison, and Hawkins stress that boaters should limit their speeds and protect shorelines.