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High Water Levels Force No-Wake Restrictions On Some Lakes

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(credit: CBS) Bill Hudson
Bill Hudson has been with WCCO-TV since 1989. The native of Elk Rive...
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ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) — Just as the weekend is about to turn steamier, taking refuge on the water won’t be that easy.

Last week’s seven inch rainfall in central Minnesota is creating dangerously high levels on a number of lakes. That means emergency no wake restrictions are once again in effect on many area lakes.

And there were some very disappointed folks on the Sauk River chain of lakes in Stearns County on Friday. Kids want to tear around on their personal water craft and wakeboards, but are finding out a whole mess of Stearns County lakes will be quiet and boring.

The Stearns County Sheriff’s Water Patrol will be enforcing the no-wake restriction on Horshoe Lake and several other lakes in the area for at least the next five days.

“It’s amazing. It’s come up two and a half feet in the last week,” said Cabin Owner Gary Liddle.

Liddle said on a normal summer weekend, boats rip it up through the waters on Horseshoe Lake. Not so with a no-wake restriction in place.

“I think this would be the equivalent of 35W at rush hour, instead it’s like a ghost town,” he said.

That’s because boaters are cruising the waters at closed throttle, barely making a ripple. A rapid rise in lake levels, here and on a dozen more area lakes means his son Mike can’t practice his competitive wake boarding.

It pains him to see perfect conditions and the boat stranded on the lift.

“Usually water like this with no wind, no boats, but now yep, we’d be wakeboarding,” said Mike.

Last week’s heavy rains have pushed the lake up over two feet. It’s swallowing docks, lakeshore and threatening miles of shoreline. That’s triggered authorities to issue emergency no-wake rules.

“This is a temporary emergency situation,” said Lt. Jon Lentz with the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office.

Instead of a parking lot, the boat access there is a dog’s playground without a bathroom. No-wake rules cover the entire chain of lakes.

“It’s a bit of a balancing act. We want to make sure not restricting fair use of the lake and at the same time make sure to safeguard property around the lake,” Lentz said.

Nobody’s more bummed than Brady Anderson. He finally got his permit to operate a personal watercraft… Looks like now he’ll have some quality time for listening to his grandpa’s fish tales.

“Nothing. I’ll be able to go out and troll fishing, other than that, nothing,” he said.

The water patrol said the no-wake restriction will remain in effect through at least next Tuesday and then depending on how much the water drops, will reassess the situation. And the price of a violation is a misdemeanor ticket of about $140.

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