Town implores boaters to reduce wakes amid rising river levels

Water levels at the Napanee River downtown boat launch are close to 2017's record levels. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme
Editor

Rising water levels on the Napanee River has prompted Greater Napanee council to temporarily close the Centre Street boat launch until levels return to normal.

Greater Napanee mayor Marg Isbester had asked town staff to look into the possibility of a temporary closure following a deputation from a concerned River Road resident during Tuesday’s council meeting. He stated shoreline residents are frustrated by the wakes caused by boaters who use excessive speeds close to their property. This year’s near-record rainfall has caused the river to rise which means erosion and water damage to properties and wildlife is a major concern, one that is exacerbated by boat wakes.

In the meantime, council says it will do its part to try and educate boaters to reduce wakes. The town is also monitoring the rising water and the damages caused by it.

“What we’re trying to do is to get out to the public is that if you are having water level concerns on your private property, to register that through our website or through the fire hall directly,” said Greater Napanee chief administrative officer Ray Callery. “We’re keeping a log so we can check in on these people. The second step is the signage. There are some wake signs currently being ordered through our Public Works department. We can’t install signs on private property. What we can do is lend signs (to home owners with property on the river) to install close to waterfront on their own property just to create awareness.”

Callery said the town would be focusing its communications department on creating more awareness for boaters.

Residents seeking sandbags to help mitigate property damage will have to look elsewhere other than the town to supply them, said Callery.

“We have very limited access to sandbags,” said Callery. “The private sector has a lot more sandbags than we do. We’re trying to manage municipal property and make sure roads are staying open. We are monitoring the situation and if we get enough demand or there is a sudden change, it is being monitored.”

While it may be too late for this year, Isbester said the town will look into the idea of developing strategies to deal with flooding.

“As a council we need to sit down and take a better look at this for the future,” said Isbester. “If they’re going to have 100 year high water every two years, then we better be ready for it. We’re fighting real battles to keep roads open and bridges from being damaged.”

Pristine waterways have always been a prominent feature of the town but Isbester noted it can come at a price.

“It’s great to live on the water until something like this happens,” Isbester said of the flooding. “It’s just so damaging.”

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