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Low Levels at Coralville Lake Could Spell Winter Danger

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CORALVILLE, Iowa - Officials at Coralville Lake want people to stay off the lake all winter long, no matter how cold it gets. It's another sign that Iowa remains in the midst of a drought.

"We never encourage people to use the lake in the winter, especially not this year," said Chief Ranger Randy Haas, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps is concerned about the low water levels and lack of water coming and going from the reservoir. Right now, the lake is only letting out 150 cubic feet of water per second, about the same amount it's taking in. It's not uncommon for officials to release up to 2,000 cubic feet per second from the lake this time of year.

Water will continue to pass below any ice that forms this winter. The first deep freeze could reduce inflow into the lake, creating a shelf of ice over the water, Haas said.

"If we get a layer of ice on that lake and the inflows are cut down below what they are now and the lake drops, you'll have a void in that area that could be a foot or more," said Haas. "(It's) an extremely dangerous situation if someone were to go through."

Fishermen are also expressing concerns about the lack of water depositing into the Iowa River.

"This winter if we get a freeze on the rivers, we're going to lose a lot of fish," said Harry Roger, who's angled in the area for 70 years. "I've never seen it like this before."

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