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Continued: High water, heavy rain slow boating across Minnesota

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 6, 2014 - 7:58 AM

“It’s going to be a much more mellow Fourth of July,” said watershed spokeswoman Telly Mamayek.

On Lake Minnetonka, if water levels continue to drop, the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District could reduce the wake restriction to boats creating a wake within 600 feet of shore. But the Watershed District doesn’t expect water levels to drop enough to lift all restrictions until at least July 19.

The rainy month and now the no-wake rule have made it the worst year in the 19 years of Ken Pittel’s jet ski rental business in Mound. This weekend, instead of being fully staffed and booked all weekend, Pittel’s dozen Jet Skis at Bay Rentals are sitting idle.

“It’s too high to JetSki; I never thought I’d see that,” he said, closing up his shop early this week. “This is the weekend that makes my summer — and [this year] I can’t rent them. It’s been terrible. Every day, I’m turning people away.”

He’s had to close his shop several times in the past month and although he’s tried to rent Jet Skis on other lakes without wake restrictions, it’s not enough to keep up business.

An ‘amazingly serene’ lake

The story is the same on rivers like the St. Croix. But there are bright spots to the high-water and wake rules.

For Tommy Drummond, kayak and paddle board rentals in Excelsior are up because paddlers don’t have to fight bigger boats and Jet Skis for space. Anglers and fishing guides are relishing the quiet lake. And statewide, drunken-boating arrests and accidents are down. According to the DNR, four people have died in boating accidents, compared to nine fatalities by this time last year.

And, Jacob said, while the no-wake rule and the pumping of untreated wastewater into the lake last month in Mound made people unnecessarily hesitant to book boats, the quieter lake is perfect for swimmers, families or anyone else who wants a more relaxing, quiet ride on Minnetonka.

“It’s so amazingly serene out here,” he said. “It’s obviously unprecedented. There’s a lot of people who have said, ‘I wish it would be like this all of the time.’

“I think people don’t want to go slow, but it’s better than staying home.”

 

Staff writer Doug Smith contributed to this report. Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141 • @kellystrib



 

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