A “No Wake Zone” was temporarily established on the north side of the Kenai River near the Kenai Keys, the State Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday.
The move comes as parts of the Kenai River are seeing flooding, a result of two separate outbursts by glacier-dammed lakes. These floods are creating hazardous conditions for “both boaters and property owners,” a media advisory from the department said.
In times of flooding, the wake created by motorized boats can damage riverbanks that usually rest far above the water level. Also, additional floating debris can be seen in the river as a result of the flooding. The measure will remain in effect until 8 p.m. on Friday.
On Monday, the department cautioned boaters against potential hazards in the water and urged them to minimize the damage that their wakes can cause to personal property. On Tuesday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management echoed that sentiment, asking boaters to “do your part to help our river neighbors” and avoid motorized boating until the river returns to safe levels.
“After yesterday’s voluntary guidance, the flooding became more of a concern as boat wakes and impacts to personal property have continued,” said Ricky Gease, director of the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, in Wednesday’s advisory.
“This temporary localized action will help minimize these impacts, as well as protect riparian habitat and ensure bank stability. We appreciate the cooperation of the community as we monitor the river.”
A flood advisory was issued Tuesday for waters south of the Soldotna Bridge, in effect through Thursday night. On Wednesday, inches of water could be seen flowing across the lowest part of Big Eddy Road, and pools at least a foot deep could be seen on either side.
A flood warning was issued Monday for the Kenai Keys near Sterling. An update to that warning said that by 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Kenai River crested at the outlet of Skilak Lake around 15 feet.
“River levels will slowly recede and take until Sunday to drop below flood levels,” the warning says.
At that level of water, the warning said that water will be several feet deep over Kenai Keys Road, and that it would flow into garages and cabins in the Kenai Keys subdivision.
For updated warnings and forecasts, visit weather.gov/afc.