Getting Answers: High river levels impacting local events, recreational use

They’ve traded in rainy days for the splash pad and the chance to finally enjoy a summer day.
Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 5:36 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -We’re keeping an eye on the water levels in the Connecticut River as organizers of two upcoming river events make decisions moving forward.

The water levels in the Connecticut River will vary depending on where you are. In Northampton, it was much lower than what people are seeing here in Springfield.

On Wednesday, the Connecticut River was still flowing fast, keeping a pause on all water activities like fishing, boating, and jet-skiing.

The Springfield Fire Department is keeping a close eye on the levels. Fire Captain Drew Piemonte tells Western Mass News, the river could remain dangerous for a few more days or even weeks.

“Right now, we’re advising people not to go near the river or participate in anything around the river. Use caution if you’re walking the river paths. It is not safe to navigate the waters in the river. There’s a lot of debris coming down from up north,” Piemonte said.

We’ve learned coming events across western mass are also being affected by current levels of the river.

One of them is the Eastern Region Ski Show Tournament in Northampton next weekend which has been canceled.

John Benjamin, the tournament’s director, shared the reason why in a statement that reads:

“We can’t guarantee good water height or the sanitary conditions of the water next week. we had to give our competitors and officials ample time to cancel travel and hotel accommodations,” said Benjamin.

On the flip side, the popular dragon boat festival in Springfield on July 29th, is still happening, according to Benjamin Quick, the executive director from the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club. That is dependent on if we don’t see any more rain.

According to the National Weather Service, the water currents in the Connecticut River are currently flowing at 60,000 cubic feet per second. While the average is usually 12,000 to 13,000.

Piemonte says that’s one indicator for not getting in the water just yet. Another indicator is watching for when public resources start to open.

“If you’re looking at the ramps, and the ramps are covered, most of the public launches are inaccessible right now. When those are accessible that’s usually a good indication that the river is safe to travel on,” stated Piemonte.

Other efforts are underway right now to determine when it will be safe to get back into the river this summer.