Low Twin Cities water levels leading to early end of boating season

11 October 2022

By WCCO’s Beret Leone

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. – It’s a bittersweet time of year for seasoned sailors Peggy and Tim Black. Mid-October means it’s time to tie up the sails and pull the boat from its dock.

“It was a great summer,” Peggy Black said. “It barely rained, so you didn’t get rained out!”

While lack of rain was a plus for the Blacks, not everyone got full use of the boating season for that very reason.

“Now we’re seeing a lot more people pull their boats out earlier, just because the fact they can’t get the boat off the lift,” said Jason Brown of White Bear Boat Works.

RELATED: Barges grounded by low water halt Mississippi River traffic

Brown guesses water levels are at least a foot and a half lower than the start of the season.

“We just have not had significant rain to, you know, fill up all the ponds around the area,” he said. “And thus, you know, White Bear suffered.”

White Bear isn’t the only lake. Extreme drought is impacting about 4% of the state, including the Twin Cities metro, according to the latest map from U.S. Drought Monitor.



“The lake’s pretty deep. If you know where you’re going you can avoid finding the bottom,” Tim Black said. “The weeds are up a little bit closer to the surface, but for the most part, it’s not a big deal for us.”

Others are not so lucky. Brown says he’s seen a variety of different repairs, like beat-up propellers, since the lack of rain started in July. Still, he says it’s not the worst season he’s seen at White Bear Lake.

“It’s been a great summer to get people out on the water,” Brown said. “There’s about 200-plus on the waiting list for the marina.”

Despite wrapping up the season on a low note, hope for next year is already high.

“Hopefully we’ll get a lot of rain this fall, and then obviously a lot of snow over the wintertime … to start filling the lake back up,” Tim Black said.

Water levels on the Mississippi River forced a luxury cruise to cut its voyage short. Viking Cruises was on its way back up the river to St. Paul from New Orleans when it was forced to dock.

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Author: CBS Minnesota

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