Canoe Rental Businesses Drying Up with the Rivers
By Dave Franzman, Reporter
JONES COUNTY, Iowa - Hot, dry weather may be just about to pull the plug on one popular form of summer recreation in eastern Iowa. Float trips down some of the state’s smaller and more scenic rivers may have to end for some operators because there’s just not enough water.
Currently, the Maquoketa River at Manchester is running at just 23% of normal flow levels. Things are even drier on the Wapsipinicon River with the levels at Anamosa just 7% of normal.
Cindy Borst runs Lou Lou’s Landing in Olin and in a way the Wapsi River is a partner in her canoe and tube rental business. But Borst says it’s a partner not doing its share of the work lately. The river is so shallow now canoes can barely make the trip at all. She’s not sure how long she can continue renting to paddlers this summer.
And as for the inflatable tubes that float down the river, it’s gotten so bad she’s about to tell 60 people with advance reservations for this weekend to just forget it.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” Borst said, adding, “I’d rather have happy customers wait. Maybe the river will come back up—we can just hope for rain.”
Angie McDonough also parked 400 inflatable tubes uses for float trips on the Maquoketa River at her business in Monticello recently. McDonough figures her business, McDonough Canoe Rental, probably lost $12,000 to $15,000 in income just in the month of July. The giant, colorful tubes rent for $10 per day.
McDonough said even though her canoes and kayaks can still successfully navigate the river, a lot of customers just don’t want to go when the water’s this low. Overall, her business is probably down 15 to 20 percent this year. “It goes with the business,” McDonough said “it goes with doing business with the river. It can be your friend. It can be your foe. That’s just the cost of doing business.”
McDonough said it recent years, she also lost canoe and tube rentals because of high water from flooding. This time, it’s obviously a different problem. But it’s an economic blow all the same.
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