In their years living next to each other on Middle Jefferson Lake, neighbors Sue Stevenson and Lee Plonske said this summer’s water levels are the highest they’ve seen.
Stevenson waded into the lake Monday to point out where the lakeshore is supposed to be. Submerged rocks roughly 20 feet in from the water’s edge mark the spot.
Heavy rain and high activity over the holiday weekend led to sunken docks and eroded shores on Middle Jefferson and other lakes in Le Sueur County, prompting no-wake restrictions until the water recedes.
“We really do appreciate the people that honor the no-wake,” Stevenson said. “It’s important to us and helps preserve our property.”
Her property features trees now surrounded by water, a shed trending toward the same fate and a chicken coop within a few strides of the edge. Any more rain in the near future would further creep the lake closer to her home and garage.
She’s owned the property for six years, while Plonske is approaching two decades at the lake. His dock, a foot above the lake earlier this year, was barely clearing the water Monday.
Ralph Redding, president of the Greater Jefferson-German Lakes Association, said lakeshore erosion is becoming more and more of an issue in recent years. He cited heavier rains and more farm run-off as the reasons.
“Everybody in the low areas, their erosion is just going to be unbelievable,” he said. “I usually have 15 feet of beach. (Now) I have zero beach.”
The Le Sueur County Sheriff’s Office put in the no-wake restrictions on Middle Jefferson and nine other lakes Saturday. Restrictions will remain in place until water levels sink below the thresholds established on each.
The sheriff’s office received complaints about boaters causing wakes on the lakes over the holiday weekend. Chief Deputy Nick Greenig said water patrols were out informing boaters of the restriction, and notices are posted at public boat landings.
“We did have some complaints called in when that went on on Saturday,” he said. “Our water patrol was out on each respective lake making contact with as many boaters as they could.”
Stevenson, Plonske and Redding said they saw assorted boaters creating wakes over the busy holiday period, but it’s been quieter since the sheriff’s office called for the no-wake restriction. Ongoing treatment against curly-leaf pondwood opened up more recreational opportunities at the shallow lake.
The property owners don’t anticipate the high water going down anytime soon. The Jefferson Lake chain has an outlet on German Lake, which slowly drains after heavy rainfalls.
“Saturday we had a downpour, probably close to three inches,” Redding said. “The outlet is over on German and only so much water can get through that underpass.”
He suggested the county adopt an official no-wake ordinance, saying it would make boaters realize the damage wakes wreak on lakeshores.