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Low water forces four beach closures

Friday, June 22, 2012

BIRDSEYE, Ind. (AP) -- The lack of rain is making it harder for some Indiana residents to cool off this summer, with four beaches at state parks closed indefinitely because of low water levels.

The beaches at Patoka Lake Reservoir, 60 miles northeast of Evansville, Salamonie Lake, 30 miles southwest of Fort Wayne, Mississinewa Lake, 20 miles northwest of Marion, and Raccoon Lake, 60 miles west of Indianapolis, have all been closed indefinitely in recent weeks. DNR spokesman Phil Bloom says all four lakes are flood control reservoirs controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers.

"Water levels are tough to control right now because of the lack of rain, which goes beyond just the shorelines of those lakes," he said.

At least 80 percent of Indiana is suffering at least a moderate drought and the state's southwestern corner has extreme drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday. The National Weather Service reports it is the third driest start to June ever in Fort Wayne, which has received just 0.25 inches of rain so far this month, and the 11th driest for South Bend, which has received just 0.78 inches. In Indianapolis, the first three weeks of the month is the driest in the city since 1988.

The weather service says below normal rainfall is expected to continue through July Fourth.

Despite the low water levels, other activities at those reservoirs are continuing, Bloom said. Boaters are being warned to be cautious because of the low water levels.

Patoka Lake property manager Tony Hazelwood told the Evansville Courier & Press that the beach is commonly closed when the lake level rises too high. He called it unprecedented that the beach was closed by drought.

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