Recent heavy rainfall events have caused considerable damage in Charlotte and Washington Counties. This rainfall is still making its way into the St. Croix River and as a result the water is flowing at a high rate than normal for this time of year.
Current water flows out of the Vanceboro dam are reading over 2000 cubic feet per second (gauge data can be viewed at http://www.americanwhitewater.org/gauges/id/10/) and water volumes increase as tributaries join the river.
The St. Croix International Waterway Commission is asking paddlers, tubers and boaters of all kinds to exercise extreme caution around the river at this time.
“It is important to check the water flow information before you go on the river,” says the SCIWC’s Executive Director, Abby Pond. “Even if you have paddled the river before, it changes completely at high flows such as we are experiencing now. This type of water makes any kind of water activity riskier. If you’re in a tube in particular, you may not be able to touch bottom or stand in this type of flow, increasing your risk of injury and drowning.” Add alcohol into this mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.
“When you choose to get on the river in these conditions without the proper training, equipment and experience, you are not only putting your own life in danger, but also the lives of the people who will have to come rescue you,” Pond states. “You’ve got to ask yourself if the risk is worth the possible consequence.”
Normal flows are usually between 700 and 900 cfs at this time of year. With the sunny weather forecasted for later this week, the flow should be closer to normal in time for the long weekend, but users should keep an eye on both the forecast and the water gauge.
The SCIWC is requesting that river users consider delaying trips if at all possible until water levels recede. If you do decide to make a trip, leave a trip plan with someone at home or with the SCIWC at email@example.com so that someone will be aware of your activities. Carry the appropriate safety equipment in your boat, wear a PFD, and avoid alcohol consumption.