Low water levels increase risks for hidden dangers

Authorities say low water levels will likely persist until fall’s rainy season begins

A sandbar on the Columbia River just downstream from the Interstate 205 bridge, July 24, 2014. (KOIN 6)
A sandbar on the Columbia River just downstream from the Interstate 205 bridge, July 24, 2014. (KOIN 6)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The Oregon State Marine Board is warning people enjoying local rivers and stream to be on the lookout for hidden dangers as the water levels fall.

Deputy Scott McDowell said a sandbar no bigger than the size of a boat three weeks ago as grown in size in the Columbia River just downstream from the Interstate 205 bridge. Rain over the last two days had pushed river levels back up, but McDowell said those levels are temporary.

“When the warm weather comes, it’ll start dropping again. So all those sandbars, all those stumps, logs, wing dams – all those things will show up again where right now it is not necessarily out there,” said McDowell.

The Oregon State Marine Board is warning not only swimmers but also boaters on local waterways to be on the lookout for potential dangers, including submerged logs and sunken debris.

Sail boaters, such as Thorn City Yacht Club Capt. Rhys Balmer, said sandbars tend to constantly shift in big waterways, and very shallow water occurs in some unexpected places.

“My depth sounder is set to alarm at 10 feet, and so I’ll be out quite a ways from the shore and we’re getting nine feet. We’re getting shallower water out in the river than we are in the marinas,” said Balmer.

Authorities said these issues will likely persist until fall’s rainy season begins.

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