Water levels are a state of emergency

To the editor:

The people or agencies that lowered this water level knew that it would create a huge health and safety risk for our residents, tourists, family, friends and children. This concern was brought to their attention the first time that FERC and the DNR lowered the water level two years ago for a short period of time. It was made clear that the lower water level of 802.5 could cause damage, personal injury or even death if watercraft hit rocks, logs, sandbars, or anything else that would be exposed.

This is a very shallow waterway and the higher water level of 802.9 has been maintained for 30-plus years. All of this nonsense of lowering the water level to 802.5 was created by just one complaint, from Brian Knapp, Shawano city administrator.

Approximately 2 1/2 years ago, after the health and safety concerns created by the agency in reducing the water level, FERC and the DNR agreed to raise it back up immediately.

The dam agreed to automate. SAWM agreed to hire a hydrologist to monitor and help study the 802.9 level for a period of two years. This was all done with the DNR to demonstrate we could successfully hold the water level at 802.9 without breaching the high watermark of 803.17.

The study was completed. All indications are it was successful, and what do they do? Lower the water level once again.

They lowered the water level with a complete disregard to causing injury or death for anyone using our valuable resource. The only conclusion you can come to is the people and/or agencies that lowered our water just prior to the Memorial Day weekend don’t care about the health and safety of our people. They should be ashamed of themselves, and there needs to be an investigation regarding who put us in this horrific situation. They should be held accountable and fired.

SAWM did everything that we were asked to do. This included an investment of over $25,000 plus numerous volunteer hours. We were successful and completed everything they asked us for. There was no reason to lower the water level and create this safety risk once again.

This is a state of emergency. There was so much damage over the holiday, all of which could’ve been prevented. Thank God no one was killed or seriously injured as of yet. The water level needs to be restored to its historical level now and the people or agencies that lowered it should be held accountable.

Tony Zielinski,