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Early Boating Season? Think Again

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) – It is the time of year when boaters start thinking of heading onto the water. But this year, homeowners on Lake Minnetonka are finding their docks fall a little short.

Lack of rain and snow caused a drop in water level on many lakes and that could delay the boating season for some.

The early spring has Jared Broghamer, who lives on Lake Minnetonka, wanting to get out on the water. He says he put his dock out a month earlier than usual. However, this is the first time Broghamer has found a beach on his property.

“The water is very, very, low this year,” he said.

He estimates the water along his shoreline dropped two to three feet from last year. Broghamer (and other homeowners) are finding it a challenge to dock their boats.

“We’re going to have to extend our dock out another 16 feet just to get our boat into the water,” Broghamer said.

That problem is one that will send some to the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, where they will have to get a permit for the dock extension.

Last week, the agency issued a low-water declaration, alerting people of the permitting process. Executive Director Gregory Nybeck expects a busy few weeks.

“Last time we’ve been in this situation, where we had to declare low water, is late 1980s,” Nybeck said.

And it’s not just the people who live on Lake Minnetonka who will notice the effects of lower water levels. Thirty miles away at Minnehaha Park, visitors will notice the falls aren’t flowing as swiftly. The falls, Minnehaha Creek and Lake Minnetonka are all part of the same watershed — one that is dealing with drought.

There’s going to need to be substantial rain in order for them to get replenished, and then, at that point, we’ll get runoff to come into lake,” Nybeck said.

It’s rare for boaters to actually want a rainy day, but if it means getting on the water at all, Broghamer says he’d rather see rain than sun.

The low water is quite a contrast to last year, when the water was so high there were weight restrictions on Lake Minnetonka.

The Lake Minnetonka Conservation District will be on the water to make sure people aren’t adding a dock extension illegally.

For more information on dock extension regulations log onto www.lmcd.org

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