Monday, September 2, 2013

TITLE - SURFACE WATER USE A Waterworks Column by Gordon Prickett for the September 4th Aitkin Independent Age SURFACE WATER USE I just finished a very close look at my 2013 Minnesota Boating Guide. At a recent meeting the topic of boating safety came up, and I raised two concerns. The first was about operators of motor boats under twelve years of age. There is absolutely no age limit in this state for a child running a boat and motor with a rating of 25 horsepower or less! My second concern was about the speeds at which watercraft in Minnesota may travel on our lakes and rivers. There are no limits. You can’t be drunk or chase wildlife, and you should give the right-of-way to sailboats, canoes, and kayaks, but so long as you’re not careless or reckless, boat speed is unlimited. When I am out in my canoe, paddling well below the slow, no-wake speed of 5 mph, I’ve got to wonder how the operators of high speed motor launches can see me, and the loons on the lake, in time to avoid a collision. The best I can do, in the absence of any sensible safety regulations about little kids and speedboats, is wear my bright orange life jacket. THE HEALING POWER OF NATURE Last year we saw severe flooding and extreme high water in the County. Surface runoff was heavy in June and July before the rains let up. This caused much sediment and litter flowing into our lakes and rivers, with unusually poor clarity from summer into fall. After a late ice-out this May, and a lot of rain in May and June, our lake levels were pretty high, but lake water transparency at area lakes is returning to normal. Though no residents talk very much about it, the fishing isn’t too bad either.