Water level of area rivers dangerously low

(Western Mass News photo)

There's a warning tonight for boaters to stay out of local rivers.

The Westfield River Watershed Association has issued an alert that water levels are dangerously low.

The association had to cancel one of it's biggest events on the river this weekend and why the group's president said that it's just not safe right now for any boaters to be out on the water.

Pynchon Point, at the South End Bridge - where the Westfield River runs into the Connecticut River - is where we met up with Bill Rose, the president of the Westfield River Watershed Association.

That spot should be underwater.

"Normal, minimum flow is 350 gallons per minute. The river right now is 250 gallons per minute and it's going down lower," Rose explained.

It's the reason why the association, for only the second time, had to cancel this weekend's Westfield River Kayak-Canoe Cruise - one of the largest events of the season.

"So it's totally unsafe even for canoeist and kayaks to go now on the river. It's unsafe because they can hit rocks and damage their kayak or canoe. They could hit rocks, flip over, and when you flip over, you've got the chance of drowning because you can get caught in the rocks when you try to get up," Rose added.

In fact, the National Weather Service said that just east of the Route 202 bridge in Westfield, the river is about three-and-a-half feet, which is well below flood stage at 13 feet.

At the Connecticut River by the Memorial bridge, it's 0.2 feet. Flood stage is 20 feet.

"So he takes a good chance of hitting something in the river and flipping," Rose noted.

Rose told Western Mass News that in these conditions, even the experienced boater can get into trouble.

"You never can judge the unexpected. They don't see anything on the surface and they go as fast as they want and do what they want until they hit something," Rose explained.

When is it safe to go in the water again? Rose said after at least a few good days of a good soaking rain.

That good soaking rain isn't expected until at least next week.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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