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DNR urges boaters to think safety on lakes and rivers at flood levels with debris in waterways

By Central Office August 23, 2018

Contact(s): Joanne Haas, DNR Law Enforcement, 608-209-8147,

MADISON - Recent August storms packing record downpours have pushed lake and river levels well into flood levels, tossed debris into waterways and accelerated currents in many areas of southern Wisconsin, signaling Wis. Department of Natural Resources officials to remind all water users to think safety by checking local water conditions and always wear a life jacket when on the water.

Capt. April Dombrowski, head of the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement's Recreation Safety and Outdoor Skills Section, says the heavy rain and rapid onset of flash floods in western Dane County and beyond in southern Wisconsin has resulted in road wash-out, closures and sinkholes. In addition to the roadway issues, it can have a major impact on your water-based recreational activities.

"What may look like a simple branch floating downstream may be the top of a large tree or branch below. Sunken docks and other items may be hidden from view," she said. "in addition to debris flood level water increases the power of current and water flow "Be observant, maintain safe speeds and wear a life jacket."

Dombrowski says this severe weather is a reminder for all to check your local water conditions before boating or paddling, swimming or any water activity. Good places to check are local tourism offices, local bait shops, sporting goods stores or the U.S. Geological Survey, too.

"Regardless of conditions the best place to store your life jacket is to wear it," Dombrowski said. "Today's models are comfortable versions. Wearing one just might save your life." Learn more about life jackets for every water sport - Wear it Wisconsin

Some of these storms and heavy rains have pushed trees and other debris in the water which creates another danger to keep watch. High water levels also increases the shoreline and erosion impacts of your boat wake. Some areas in Dane County have implemented lake-wide slow-no-wake requirements. Remember to always be aware of your boat wake and impact on others and check the signage prior to launching, Dombrowski says.

Here are some other safety tips from Dombrowski:

Last Revised: Thursday, August 23, 2018

Contact information

For more information about news and media, contact:
Sarah Hoye
Director Of Communications
Office Of The Secretary
(608) 267-2773