Gov. Tim Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard on Wednesday to prepare for spring flooding in communities in northwestern Minnesota. Goodhue County had begun to prepare for high water levels on the Mississippi, but new predictions suggest that there will not be local flooding this spring.
The Goodhue County Board planned to discuss the rising water levels during its meeting Tuesday. County Board Chair Paul Drotos brought a proposal for creating temporary no-wake zones.
“The problem was because people were out of work from COVID-19, we had a just tremendous influx of boats on the river and there were multiple incidents where boats were creating wakes and then wake surfing and ripping up the shorelines," Drotos said.
With the increased number of boaters on the river and predicted high water levels the county feared increased erosion on local shorelines. Drotos explained that the county had already received a few complaints about boats creating wakes and wake surfing, resulting in the deterioration of soil.
While the Mississippi River was first projected to exceed 15.5 feet today at Red Wing -- flood stage is 14 feet -- the prediction now is that the river will not rise above 13.5 feet.
“In a nutshell, it’s hard to have an emergency flood no-wake zone when there is no flood determined at 14 feet,” Drotos told the board.
Pierce County Sheriff Nancy Hove notified Goodhue County officials that she also wanted a no-wake zone.
Though there is not a plan for implementing no-wake zones this spring, local municipalities are asking that boaters to slow down to prevent riverbank erosion and take care to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
Laura Blair Johnson, city of Red Wing public information officer, created a memo to the community asking everyone to “be a responsible boater.” Johnson included a message from the Red Wing Police Department:
“Due to the current state of emergency with COVID-19 and the governor’s executive orders, please maintain your social distancing and do not drive around barricades. Help us maintain the integrity of our safety plans during this time, your voluntary compliance is greatly appreciated.”
The CDC’s guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while boating are:
Do not raft-up with other boats.
Do not congregate on docks.
Limit passengers to members of one household.
As flood predictions fluctuate and the pandemic continues boating guidelines may change.