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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Boating ban on Keuka will be in place through holiday weekend

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  • Authorities have closed Keuka Lake to all motorized boats due to high water levels and floating debris in the wake of recent heavy rains and flooding.
    The ban is expected to remain in place throughout Memorial Day weekend, which traditionally kicks off the summer lake season.
    “There’s no doubt in my mind - while the rate the water level is dropping - that it’ll still be too high to allow boats this weekend,” said Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike. “I regret that, but I have to do this in the interest of public safety.”
    Although the water level has dropped since devastating flooding hit Yates County last week, it was still about two feet higher than normal as of Wednesday, Spike said.
    The water level has been dropping about an inch per day, but there’s rain in the forecast through Friday.
    And there’s “all kinds of things floating out there,” Spike said, from trees to pieces of boat docks that broke off during the winter ice-over or the recent storms.
    There had been a 5 mph “no wake” rule in place since last week’s storms, but it wasn’t being heeded by boaters, especially those from outside the area, Spike said.
    Boat wakes can damage docks along the shore that are submerged, and also cause soil erosion, he added.
    At Spike’s request, Steuben County Sheriff Dave Cole also issued a motorized boating ban, meaning that the entire lake is covered.
    All public boat launches in Yates and Steuben counties will be closed, and marinas have also been advised.
    Sheriff’s deputies will be patrolling in boats to enforce the ban, and violators will be charged with disorderly conduct, authorities say.
    Spike says he’ll likely reassess the situation Tuesday or Wednesday and consider lifting the ban.
    Yates County also has shoreline along Seneca and Canandaigua lakes, and a 5 mph “no wake” rule remains in place there, according to Spike.
    A state of emergency remains in effect in Yates County, but the cleanup from last week’s flooding is progressing well, Spike said.
    The state Department of Transportation has been assisting local highway departments in repairing road and culvert damage, and most roads have been reopened, Spike said. He said officials have been assessing damage to homes and businesses in Penn Yan and other hard-hit locations, and are hoping to qualify for FEMA aid.

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