The Wisconsin fishing opener will bring plenty of boats out on Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers tomorrow, but Xcel Energy has a safety reminder. The power company says due to the late spring melt, recent rainfall, and high river flows, Xcel Energy crews have been unable to install boat restraining barriers upstream of the company’s hydroelectric dams on the lower Chippewa River at Holcombe, Cornell, Lake Wissota, and Chippewa Falls, as well as the St. Croix Falls hydro dam on the St. Croix River. Boat barriers have washed away upstream of the Ladysmith and Thornapple hydro plants on the Flambeau River.
Typically at this time of year, Xcel Energy crews install a cable with a series of floats to mark a restricted area for boaters upstream of dams. The company advises boaters to obey all warning signs, barriers, flashing lights, horns and sirens near dams, always stay outside buoy lines, never boat or fish alone near a dam, and to leave boat motors running to provide maneuvering power. Boaters should also stay clear of spillways below dams where changing currents can capsize a boat, never anchor below a dam, because water levels can change rapidly, wear a personal flotation device, and bring a cell phone to contact 911 in an emergency.