High water levels close boat ramps on Illinois River

If only the Illinois Valley could share its water with drought-stricken California.
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If only the Illinois Valley could share its water with drought-stricken California.

High water, dangerous flow and debris have forced boat ramps on the Illinois River to close, all but killing the first half of summer boating.

The river began rising June 7, 45 days ago, and has yet to return to a normal midsummer level. In La Salle, the river has been above the 20-foot flood stage for 39 days, according to the (Illinois) News Tribune.

At the South Shore Boat Club in Peru, half of 48 boat slips sit vacant because members did not take their boats out of winter storage, said member Dave DeGroot.

“With all this high water, I don’t even know if I’m going to un-winterize my boat this year,” DeGroot told the newspaper.

At times, the river was closed to recreational boating. Local boat ramps are flooded and closed. The high water curbed weekend visits from traveling boaters to local clubs.

“A lot people can’t put their boats in,” DeGroot said. “There’s just no place to put a boat in.”

For members who did dock their boats, the walkway is underwater. Getting to boats requires boarding a small rowboat and paddling out.

Spring Valley Boat Club remained inaccessible by road on Monday because of flooding. At the East Peoria Boat Club, The Miss Riverbottom festival was initially postponed from late June to early August. It is one of the largest river celebrations of the summer, but continued flooding forced the Peoria club to cancel it altogether.

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