July 4, 2008

DNR Alert: Beware of Debris on Wisconsin River

By The Wisconsin State Journal

Jul. 4--The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Thursday issued a warning to boaters that the majority of the debris washed downstream from the Lake Delton area by floods is still present in and along the Wisconsin River from Lake Delton to approximately the Columbia Power Plant.

The agency said the debris can prove hazardous.

"We've documented more than 80 visible piles of debris along this portion of the river," said Barbara Wolf, regional warden supervisor for DNR's South Central Region. "In some cases the items are as large as a section of the roof of a structure washed away when Lake Delton drained into the river. Some of this debris is just under the water."

Officials called the debris a significant hazard to navigation, and although the largest and most visible piles have been documented, any one of them could break up and shift at any time, causing potential harm to boaters, waterskiers and personal watercraft operators.

"We're concerned about the piles we know about," said Wolf "but the debris that is underwater, what we can't see poses an even greater danger. I would advise boaters that it is dangerous to get too close to the debris simply because so much of it is submerged. Boaters should use extreme caution on any portion of the river and we recommend Slow-No-Wake speed this area."

Discussions are underway between Wisconsin Emergency Management, FEMA, Columbia and Sauk counties and the DNR in regard to removing the debris.

"We'll be working with solid waste experts to properly dispose of anything hauled out of the flooded areas," said Wolf, "including trying to recycle as much material as possible."

Owners working to clean up riverfront property are reminded that it is illegal to burn many materials including treated or painted wood, rubber products, wet trash, oily rags and plastics. A list of prohibited materials to burn is available on the DNR Website www.dnr.wi.gov.

"Getting out on the water and being in the outdoors is a big part of the July 4th holiday for many families," said DNR Secretary Matt Frank. "Our parks, forests and trails are open for business but we urge people to use caution on state waters that have recently flooded or are still running high. Have a great time -- but be safe."


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