Johnson County Sheriff Bans Recreation On Iowa River

By Vanessa Miller, Reporter

Ayden Wagner, 3, of Springville tosses a rock into the splashing water of the outflow tube of the Coralville Dam Wednesday, May 29, 2013 in Iowa City. The US Army Corps of Engineers began releasing water at the rate of 10,000 cfs on Wednesday morning. (Brian Ray/KCRG-TV9)

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By Richard Pratt

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office this morning issued a ban on boating, canoeing, swimming, or engaging in any other recreational activity on the Iowa River and all creeks, streams and flooded areas south of the Coralville Reservoir.

The prohibition, issued through the Johnson County Emergency Operations Center, is for public safety and emergency response purposes, according to Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek. No one will be allowed to operate a vessel or even enter into areas that are being impacted by the natural disaster unless an officer gives authorization.

The ban, at this time, doesn’t include the Coralville Lake, Lake MacBride or the Cedar River, all of which were included in a ban during the 2008 flood.

But, according to Pulkrabek, that is subject to change should conditions worsen. And Dee Goldman, Coralville Lake operations manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said that just because it's not off limits, doesn't mean it's safe.

"With the high waters come some very different dangers," Goldman said. "People should just stay off the reservoir at this point. There are dangers out there and some shoreline erosion."

He said the Corps uses water elevation to decide whether to ban recreation on the lake.

"As of this time it's not closed," he said, "but that's probably forthcoming with the spillway discharge."

The Coralville Lake currently stands at 703.11 feet, and it’s expected to rise to 704.24 feet by the end of the day, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Officials anticipate water will pour over the spillway next week.

According to the National Weather Service, rain is expected to fall in parts of Eastern Iowa today and again next week.

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