Rain brings no-wake restriction to Chain O' Lakes, Fox River

The Fox Waterway Agency in Fox Lake has placed a no-wake restriction on the Chain O' Lakes because of rising water levels.

Ron Barker, the executive director of the state-funded agency, said the restrictions were put in place at noon Tuesday after heavy rains north of Antioch forced water levels to significantly rise in Wisconsin.

He said more than an inch of rain was recorded in Wisconsin, causing water levels in New Munster, Wis., to spike.

Barker said the flooding at this point is not going into homes, but is causing some soggy yards in and around Fox Lake.

"All that water from Wisconsin is making its way here," he said. "Right now, we expect water to be on some pavement and in some yards, but not in homes yet."

The move to no-wake on the Chain follows similar restrictions placed on the Fox River on Monday from the mouth of the Chain south to the Algonquin Dam.

No-wake means boats are allowed to travel on the water, but at speeds of less than 5 mph or not fast enough to leave a wake behind.

Barker said no-wake restrictions are placed on the Chain when water exceeds about one foot over normal summer levels. In comparison, the major flooding in April 2013 was about 3 feet over normal summer levels.

The National Weather Service said 2 to 4 inches of rain has been recorded across the area since June 17.

"Up until that rain last night, everything was going down nicely," he said. "We have no idea when the restrictions will be lifted. It really depends on Mother Nature."

Barker added the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' department of water resources is moving as much water as possible through dams in McHenry and Algonquin and to the south.

"I want to stress to every boater that, if you go out, be very aware of your surroundings," he said. "High water events like this will bring a lot more floating debris through the system."

Rob Hardman, owner of Blarney's Island on Grass Lake, said he loses about 70 percent of his business when the Chain is restricted to no-wake.

"It's not like it (business) rises above normal levels when the Chain reopens," he said. "I mean, it's not like the people who missed out this weekend double up on the next one or anything."

Hardman said he hopes the area dries out and things return to normal quickly.

"Hopefully, this is just a short spike in the water levels and the Chain is back open by Saturday," he said.

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