Lower Shawano Dam water levels causing safety hazard for users of waterways

SHAWANO COUNTY, Wis. Low water levels are causing safety concerns for boaters and others using Shawano County waterways, this after restrictions were put on the Shawano Dam.

Shawano Dam

Anthony Zielinski with Shawano Area Waterways Management says the 'Federal Energy Regulatory Commission' ordered the Shawano Dam operators to lower the water level three weeks ago.

"I think you would argue that five inches, essentially 10 right now, you take 10 inches of water out of Shawano Lake, you're going to create harm, you're going to create damage," said Zielinski.

"Shawano Lake is so shallow to begin with, when we drop down 10 inches that’s the difference between getting a boat through in certain spots and not getting a boat through," said Bob Bloomer, owner of All Season Repair in Shawano.

Zielinski says one boater lost his lower unit on the Wolf River over the weekend, costing him more than $5,000 in damages. Zielinski estimates there have been hundreds of thousands of dollars in boat damages just over Memorial Day weekend.

The damaged boat is currently at All Season Repair in Shawano, its gear case is still in the Wolf River.

"Took the entire gear case off of the bottom of the boat, there's seven or eight people on the deck of the boat, the boat went into a skid sideways, thank God nobody was coming from the other way, it could've been really bad," said Bloomer.

The lower water level is also affecting Shawano’s popular water ski team the SkiSharks.

"We can't risk our kids falling into shallow water where normally they wouldn't have, and from what we witnessed this holiday weekend, there is a genuine concern that will trickle in to our water ski team," said Dave Passehl, president of the Shawano SkiSharks.

Officials from the City Of Shawano and Shawano County, The Shawano Area Waterways Management and The Village of Cecil will meet to discuss options for the Shawano Dam water levels on Wednesday.