Prolonged no-wake rules, high water impacting local businesses

The Mississippi River has been above 10 feet for more than 90 total days this year shattering the previous record of 46 in 1965. High water is making recreation out on the water difficult for boaters, but it’s also impacting local businesses.

Kim and Jeannie Benson own Lawrence Lake Marina in Brownsville Minnesota.

“We have been here about nine years,” Kim Benson said.

However, business hasn’t been smooth sailing.

“It’s been a little slower,” Benson said. “This year in particular, about five weeks of that was gone because of flooding, weather and high water.”

They have dealt with flooding and high water before but this year is different. The Upper Mississippi has been either above or near the 10-feet mark since the middle of March.

“In the nine years we have been here we have never seen the river that high for this length of time,” Benson said.

In La Crosse County, no-wake rules go into effect along developed shorelines meaning boaters have to slow down. Benson said many new boaters get confused and think no-wake means the entire river.

“They don’t understand all the rules on the river as far as the no-wake is concerned,” Benson said. “That does keep them away.”

He said boaters are then less likely to make their way to his business.

“Especially for people like us who are 6 or 7 miles away,” he said. “That’s a long way to go if you have to idle through the whole way.”

The summer boating season is 15 weeks long and Benson has lost five weeks.

“With the bad weather and high water and flooding that slows business way down,” Benson said. “There’s nothing we can really do about that.”

As the water goes back down he is hopeful business will pick up in the second half of the season.

The Mississippi River fell below 10 feet Thursday morning. Boaters are still asked to be responsible and courteous of other boats, even in areas where there are no rules involving no-wake.

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