Drought causes low river levels; Tubing and kayak business isn’t worried

Sugar River Adventures owner says low water creates perfect water for beginner kayakers
Updated: Jun. 12, 2021 at 10:43 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - With high temperatures and little rain, water levels in local rivers have decreased.

Michael Marti who owns Sugar River Adventures, a tubing and kayak business, said there’s less room for his tubes to move left and right. However, there’s also some benefits to the shallow river.

“It’s the lowest that I’ve ever seen it since we’ve been in business,” Marti said.

People have been floating down Sugar River for three years with his business. Even with the water levels dropping, he is not worried.

“With the absence of the snow and showers in the month of April, that has put us in the scenario that we’re in right now with very low water levels,” said Marti.

He said he saw water levels start to drop as early as last August.

“Regardless of if the water is high or low, there are always challenges either for a kayak or a river tube,” he said.

One benefit of a low river is a low current. That makes the ride easier for beginners.

“When the current is higher or the water level is higher, the current is faster,” Marti said. “So, that will be more of a speedier trip down the river, so you have to act fast in maneuvering the kayaks.”

When levels get this low, Illinois Conservation Police Sergeant Phillip Wire advised people to keep safety precautions top of mind.

“Main thing is to take it slow when you’re going over the water,” Wire said. “Once you’ve known the area, you can see where you can go and where you can’t go.”

He said to be aware of wreckage that isn’t visible in higher water.

“There’s hazards along the shoreline too. As far as a fishing line that might not have been there before,” Wire said. “Now the water level dropped, so, there might be fishing lines along the shorelines. Logs and rocks as well.”

Wire and Marti said in order for Sugar River water levels to rise, they’ll need rain in Wisconsin where the river starts.

Wire advised larger boats to watch out for shallow waters, but kayaks should be okay in most parts. He said to check with people coming out of the water before you go in.

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