BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Excessively high water levels on Lake Monroe continue to force the closure of some public beaches and courtesy docks into a second week.
“They’re six feet above normal pool,” said DNR Reservoir specialist Philip Wilson. “Only two times, in 2008 and this year, has it been high water this late. We normally experience these kinds of things in the spring.”
Now for the start of a second week, the state-operated beaches at Paynetown and Fairfax Recreation Areas are closed. Although the beach closures are not being enforced, signs that say “Beach Closed High Water” are posted at each location.
The beach at Hardin Ridge, which is operated by the U.S. Forest Service, is also closed.
Several courtesy docks, where visitors can stage their boats and go fishing, are also closed because walkways leading to them are under water. Public boat ramps are currently open. Boaters are being urged to use caution, especially when skiing and tubing.
“They need to be aware that there may be debris floating in the lake and they should take that extra precaution,” Wilson said.
The Lake Monroe Reservoir was originally designed as a flood control measure for communities to the south. During normal times, the Army Corps of Engineers is able to release water from the reservoir in order to bring the levels down. Right now, however, Wilson says the flooding threat to surrounding areas is too great because of saturated ground and high creek and river levels.
“We would see some effect in residential areas that could be impacted,” he said. “But it would mostly be agricultural areas that would be flooded out. And farmers wouldn’t be able to get into their fields and they would lose their crops.”
Despite the beach and dock closures, Wilson says campgrounds remain open and reservations remain steady. He hopes conditions will dry out enough to start releasing water from the reservoir soon, but he doesn’t know when that could happen.