Northwoods lake levels at historic lows - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Northwoods lake levels at historic lows


By Heather Sawaski

ONEIDA COUNTY (WAOW) -- Lake levels in northern Wisconsin are at historic lows, and DNR leaders predict it's going to get worse before it gets any better. According to lake management experts, we've been experiencing a severe drought over the last 10 years, and the hardest hit areas are Vilas and Oneida counties.

Otto Schoeneck has lived on the shores of Sugar Camp Lake for more than 60 years. He says he's never seen the water level this low.

"The dock normally will touch the shore up there," he said. "The water will be up along the riff raff, and the docks will all be in the water."

It's a seepage lake, which means there are no inlets, outlets, or dams controlling the levels. The lake should get its recharge through snow melt and rain. But according to DNR leaders, Mother Nature hasn't been doing her job for almost 10 years.

"Right now we're talking feet low," said Kevin Gauthier with the DNR Water Management Department. "In some cases 4 to 6 feet low, and even more in other cases."

Back at Sugar Camp, the weed line from where the shore stood just last year is visible. Just 2 years ago, the sandy area was covered with water. Now it's possible to walk completely around the lake.

Gauthier says like everything in nature, water levels move in cycles. So the only fix is to hurry up and wait.

"You can worry about it," Schoeneck said. "but there's nothing you can do about it." "

Flowage lakes are also experiencing record low levels. Those are the ones connected to river chains, and partially controlled by dams. It's not as severe on flowage lakes because they're able to be better maintained.

Online Reporter: Heather Sawaski

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