Mississippi River unsafe for boating this holiday weekend - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Mississippi River unsafe for boating this holiday weekend

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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is asking boaters to stay off the Mississippi River along its entire stretch down the state's eastern border.

High river levels due to recent heavy rains have led to fast currents and lots of debris.

That's why the DNR is asking those who normally watch Dubuque's Third of July Fireworks and Air Show Spectacular from their boats to stay off the river this year.

For Keith Kann, that means a cut in business. He owns the Dubuque Marina and Yardarm Restaurant and Lounge, which sits right alongside the Mississippi River.

"I hate to tell people to not boat because, you know, I depend on them out there boating," Kann said Thursday. "It's just dangerous. They need to be very careful."

July 3 is the biggest business day of the season for Kann, since Dubuque's Third of July Fireworks and Air Show Spectacular draws tens of thousands of people to the area, and most of the action takes place adjacent to the Dubuque Marina, at A.Y. McDonald Park.

"We're hoping that we're probably going to be having more people coming by car than by boat this year, because we know there's not going to be a lot of boating out there," Kann said.

Lisa and Tom Grover have docked their boat at the Dubuque Marina for more than a dozen years. The couple lives in Beloit, Wis. and spends as much time as possible on the Mississippi River in the warm months.

This year, Lisa Grover said, they can see the high river levels have taken a hit on boat traffic.

"Probably the biggest thing is the floating debris and the current is really strong, so you gotta be really careful about getting out in it," she said. "Couple friends of ours just said, 'Well, we're not going out at all. We'll come over but we're not going out anywhere."

A pole at the Dubuque Marina marks the highest river level in 2011 and 2001, the last two years where the river got significantly high like it is now.

Even though Kann said he has seen worse, he'd still prefer the river to return to manageable levels.

"We can live with this. I mean, this is a walk in the park, but it's still hindering boating," he said. "First part of the season is gone, so hopefully after (the river) drops here we might get the boating season started. It's been an uphill battle, bottom line."

While the Mississippi River is technically still open to boaters, the Iowa DNR, US Army Corps of Engineers and US Coast Guard all advise against it.

Also hurting river travel, the US Army Corps of Engineers has closed and will continue to close a number of the locks along the Mississippi River due to the high water. USACE spokesperson for the Rock Island District Ron Fournier said Lock and Dam 11 in Dubuque is expected to remain open, however.

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