State and local officials dropped emergency boating rules on the Iowa Great Lakes Tuesday that were implemented in mid-July. Mike Hawkins with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the emergency rules created a five mile-an-hour “no wake” zone within 600 feet of the shoreline after lake levels rose rapidly.
He says a heavy rain storm drove the water levels to 26-and-half inches above the crest on July 17th, which was one of the highest levels since 1993. Hawkins says there wasn’t much room for a lot more water in the lakes at the time, but things have now improved.
“We’ve definitely dodged a number of bullets here, we’ve had other parts of the state obviously have gotten hit hard with rains storms between the middle of July and now,” Hawkins said. He says they’ve been pretty dry and that’s good because the soil was saturated and more rain would’ve caused problems.
Hawkins says the emergency rules kept boats from causing waves that would flow into key areas. He says when water levels are that high, there are a number of sanitary sewer lift stations that face danger, and he says there can also be erosion to the shore line. He says the area escaped any major damage from the high water levels.
Hawkins says there was some minor erosion and that was due in part to precautions taken after the flood of 1993 when there was some severe erosion along the shore line. The area has been so dry that the water level has dropped 13 inches since the July 17th peak, and had been dropping at the rate of almost one inch a day recently.
The lake levels are now back to where they were on July 4th.