The next two weekends are typically two of the busiest on central Iowa’s reservoirs. But for those managing the lakes, 2013 has already been roller coaster ride.
Saylorville and Red Rock Lakes are recovering, but both are still a long way from where officials and boaters would like them to be.
A few months are all it’s taken.
“All of our boat ramps were out of the water, our beaches were unusable,” says Jeff Rose, operations Manager at Saylorville Lake.
The 2012 drought lasted until this spring.
“And then just within a matter of weeks in April, the lake was nearly 30 feet above normal,” says Rose.
High water has already taken a chunk out of the summer, but with reservoir ramps reopened, boaters like Wes Waterbeck aren’t waiting for normal levels to return.
“Been looking forward to this, it’s just been talking the wife into coming out here with me that’s been really holding us up,” says Waterbeck.
Matt Rench and his friends have enjoyed an uncrowded Saylorville, but the rush to the ramps is returning.
“That main one down there is closed so this one is kind of busy,” says Rench.
At Saylorville, only the lower Cherry Glen Ramp remains closed. At Red Rock, the Elk Rock ramps are open, as is White Breast.
Floating logs and branches are a problem everywhere.
“I’ve seen a couple logs here and there,” says Rench.
“We stay fairly close to the shoreline and if we hit anything, we’re within swimming distance to the shore,” says Waterbeck.
If beaches aren’t underwater, they’re closed due to high bacteria levels. North Overlook Beach at Red Rock is the only one open.
“It’s posted ‘Swimming Not Recommended’ but the area is open for use and this past weekend there were over 100 vehicles on Saturday and quite a few folks still using the beach,” says Josh Conrad, Asst. Operations Manager at Red Rock.
It took one wet month to turn drought into flood. Those around the lakes are hoping a dry one might bring things back to normal.
Currently, Saylorville Reservoir is about 20 feet above normal pool, while Red Rock is 24 feet above. Each is going down at a rate of about one foot per day.