Flooding forces postponement of Fox, Chain clean-up event
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Every spring the Fox Waterway Agency snares about 100 or more volunteers to remove debris from designated spots along the Fox River and Chain `O Lakes.
"It's tons," Ron Barker, the agency's executive director, said of the annual haul. "Old tires, logs, lawn furniture, refrigerators," and so on.
The call went out this season as usual. But because of circumstances left behind by last month's flooding, the 12th annual Fox River and Chain `O Lakes Clean-Up set for Saturday has been postponed with no make up date planned yet.
While water levels are dropping about 3 inches a day, the entire system — which includes the upper and lower Fox River and Chain `O Lakes — remains closed to boating. Fast currents and floating debris make conditions dangerous, officials say.
The concern for the safety of volunteers contributed to the decision to postpone the cleanup, said John Schmidtke, a member of the agency's advisory committee.
"The Fox Waterway Agency right now is dealing with the current flooding situation," he said. Some who may have volunteered are dealing with their individual flooding situation or helping neighbors, he added.
Typically, volunteers spread out to seven locations throughout the system.
"Over the years there's been engine parts, tires, propane tanks, various litter from recreational activities as well as vegetative debris," Schmidtke said.
This year, Waterway Agency crews have been busy recovering other types of debris.
"Piers that have washed away, rescuing boats that have floated away, whole trees," said Barker. "We'll be doing this at least the next two weeks."
The water gauge height Wednesday on Fox Lake was 6.35 feet. Flooding starts at 5.5 feet and the crest after last month's storms was nearly 8 feet. Barker, who has lived on the water in the area for 30 years, said it has been some of the worst flooding he has seen.
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