Flooding hurts businesses, prompts no-wake ordinance

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Dane County issued a slow, no-wake ordinance Tuesday for some Madison lakes. Lake Waubesa, Monona, and Kegonsa are being patrolled for speeding boaters.

The restrictions come after heavy rainfall has caused lakes to flood. Wakes cause more movement in the water which can erode and damage lakeshore. There is also concern over debris floating in lakes.

John Reimer is the Assistant Director of the Dane County Land and Water Resource Department. He said the restrictions keep boaters safe.

"There's hazards out on the water, with peoples' piers. So, we encourage people with piers to fasten and tighten them, or remove them that may be prone to being lost in the lake," Reimer said.

Checking piers is something Frank Rybeck is familiar with. He owns Crown Point Resorts on Lake Kegonsa. He has raised the level of the piers at his resort three times this year.

On Monday evening, he said them for a fourth time and left for dinner. When he returned two hours later, the piers were gone.

"All the pier sections had floated out. They were all over the shore, or floating around in the lake. We lost everything," Rybeck said.

The flooding this year has hit his business especially hard.

"The water is so high that its coming in the bottom of probably my best rental," explained Rybeck. "It is problematic. I'll probably lose most of the income for that cottage for the whole summer."

The slow, no-wake ordinance also affects Rybeck's operation, but he understands the need for the restriction.

"They just posted the no-wake ordinance on the lake. I had a group that came in today to do tubing and water skiing, but I think he knew it probably wasn't going to happen."

It could take weeks for water levels to subside, especially with more chances of rain in the forecast.

Reimer said, "The water level decline isn't something where we could pull a plug out of a bathtub and its going to happen tomorrow or the next day. It's going to take time for water levels to decline."

Rybeck agreed, "It'll take six weeks for the water to go down. That puts us at August."

He's been on Lake Kegonsa for 33 years, and said he has only seen the lake flood so drastically once before. He said it was in 1993, when the Mississippi River flooded.

"They called that the thousand year flood, and it hasn't been a thousand years and we're right back up to that same level again."

Rybeck is concerned about the way the lakes are managed.

"Dane County manages all the dams, and they're supposed to work so that everybody shares the pain equally. If you're up 10 inches, so is the next lake."

Rybeck continued, "Lately what's been happening is, we've been up a lot. and they've been up a little. Mendota is up five inches, we're up 15 inches."

Despite his property being underwater, Rybeck maintains a positive attitude.

"I'm optimistic. I always think its going to be better next time- that this is the end. I never thought I'd see a flood like this again."