Raging rivers making boating dangerous on Mississippi and St. Croix

12:34 AM, Jun 28, 2013   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - The heavy rains over the last several days is impacting waterways all across the Twin Cities metro, including two popular rivers.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office issued a slow-no wake order on the St. Croix River Wednesday because the water levels are too high. And on the Mississippi River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shut down its three locks in the Twin Cities Thursday because of high water levels and dangerous conditions.

"Everything seems to be high this year," said Washington County Deputy Matt Hegge, who works for the county's water patrol.

Activity on the St. Croix River Thursday night was few and far between. Susie Mack, a boater, is blaming the no wake order. It forces boaters to go slow enough to retain control but not fast enough to provide a wake behind the boat.

It is horrible timing with Fourth of July next week.

"I think there will be more people doing picnics at home or on the shore. You have to go slow, you have to look out for the dead heads," said Mack.

Those "dead heads" aren't music fans, but floating debris. Safety can be tricky out here and so can erosion.

"It is wavy out here because of the wind. That's damaging enough we don't need more boaters out here damaging the shoreline," said Hegge.

But St. Croix's shoreline is calm compared to the Mississippi River's in downtown Minneapolis.

"When you see the water coming over the cement wall there you know the flow is up," said Lockmaster Mike DeRusha with the St. Paul District Locks and Dams.

Water rushed through the falls smashing into the side cement walls. The water rose so much and flowed so fast, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers shut down the Upper and Lower St. Anthony Locks and Lock and Dam number one in St. Paul Thursday.

"It went from 18,000 CFS up to right now 43,900," said DeRusha. "In one week."

CFS stands for cubic feet per second; a cubic foot is about the size of a basketball.

"So every second you're looking out there, you're seeing 43,900 basketballs going over it which is pretty impressive to me," he said.

It's also incredibly dangerous, which is why officials are pleading with people to head the warnings.

"Obviously if you're out there and had any motor problems, you would end up going over the falls," he said.

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