Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Disabled pontoon sweeps through Lock and Dam 3

The damaged pontoon, after being pushed through the dam gates after the rescue, was towed away to prevent it from causing damage as river debris. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - St. Paul District1 / 3
The working supervisor at Lock and Dam 3 made the call to flush the damaged pontoon through the dam gate so it wouldn't sink under the roller gate. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - St. Paul District2 / 3
The damaged pontoon, after being pushed through the dam gates after the rescue, was towed away to prevent it from causing damage as river debris. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - St. Paul District3 / 3

High water levels on the Mississippi River and tributaries have caused many problems for residents of rivertowns, and a recent pontoon accident at Lock and Dam 3 near Red Wing underscores the need for safety while on the water.

Operators at Lock and Dam 3 launched an emergency boat June 26 to rescue the passengers of a disabled pontoon as it floated toward the dam's roller gates, according to a news release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - St. Paul District.

The report stated that there were no injuries, "thanks to the hasty efforts of lock personnel and responders with the Prairie Island Police Department and Goodhue County Sheriff's Office."

In addition to greater volume and power, the high waters can, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, cause sediment to shift and change depths rapidly.

In order to stay safe while boating this Fourth of July weekend and throughout the summer, the Corps of Engineers recommends the following precautions:

• Carry a marine radio — tuned to channel 16, designated as the international distress frequency

• Carry extra gas — swift river currents can quickly push disabled vessels into harm's way

• Carry an appropriate-sized anchor — the anchor should be able to still your vessel, with enough line to remain secure at alternate depths

• Observe restricted areas — set at 600-feet upstream of a dam and 150-feet below

• Be courteous of other vessels — especially commercial tows, which will be more prevalent on the water and take up to a quarter-mile to stop

Steve Gardiner

Steve Gardiner taught high school English and journalism for 38 years in Montana and Wyoming.  He started working at the Republican Eagle in May 2018.  He focuses on features and outdoor stories.  

(651) 301-7872
randomness