LA CROSSE, Wis. -- As our area continues to remain under drought conditions, one of the new concerns is the level of Mississippi River.
In La Crosse, the river is currently at 5.2 feet. Even though that's still a long way from the record low of 2.7 feet, the water level is already causing some problems.
People are reporting damage at many of the boat launches in La Crosse.
Jay Odegaard, the supervisor of the city's Park & Rec Department, says the low water level is forcing boaters to launch further and further down the ramps. That is damaging the launches and displacing gravel at the sites.
"It's kind of a never-ending battle," said Odegaard.
City crews are scheduled to do rare mid-season repairs this week at the La Crosse Municipal Boat Harbor. Not only do the current conditions damage the launches, Odegaard says boats, trailers and vehicles suffer as well.
"Hopefully it's right back for continued use until the water gets back up and the users are having an enjoyable experience," said Odegaard.
However, that would be just the tip of the iceberg if conditions worsen. Already, barge traffic on the lower Mississippi River has been halted in some areas because of low water levels.
"The rainfalls that have happened in northern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin have really helped the river levels here unlike further south on the Mississippi," said Lucy McMartin, with the Winona Port Authority.
McMartin says there would be a huge ripple through our area's economy should the water levels stop or even slow down river traffic. That has not happened....yet.
"They all stress the word yet because certainly with the dry conditions, it could impact us down the road," she added.