Drought nearly sinks powerboat race

Posted on Written by Michael LaBella

A championship boat race in north-central Illinois was held this weekend, thanks to a volunteer who helped pump millions of gallons of water into drought-stricken Lake DePue.

Rich Magnuson led a volunteer effort to build a makeshift dam with sandbags and then fill the lake with water pumped from a nearby river, according to an Associated Press article.

Race officials nearly had to call off the PRO National Championships because water levels had dropped to dangerous levels for boats.

Magnuson knew the right people to call to get pumps working — and how to bark orders.

“I was just the guy that did the yelling and told them, ‘This is a dictatorship. This is what you’re going to do. No more arguing. … We’re losing water while you’re arguing,’ ” the 60-year-old retiree told the AP.

By Wednesday, they had added 2 feet to the lake, enough to save the races.

The annual race provides an economic boost for the town of 1,500, bringing in millions of dollars and helping to buy everything from little league uniforms to equipment for schools. It’s also a homecoming for former residents, who return from as far away as California and Florida.

Click here for the entire story.

Read more about the drought’s effect on the marine industry in September’s Soundings Trade Only.

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