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Xcel Energy urges safety near dams this summer

EAU CLAIRE – With summer in full swing, Xcel Energy is reminding boating and fishing enthusiasts to be safe around dams and hydroelectric facilities.

Boating or canoeing above or below a dam can be dangerous. “If you’re operating a watercraft near a dam, you need to be aware of changing flow conditions from either the spillway or powerhouse,” said Rob Olson, Hydro Operations at Xcel Energy. “And if you recreate near a dam, you need to be aware of your surroundings so you can quickly respond to rapidly changing water conditions.”

Xcel Energy is a member of the Midwest Hydro Users Group (HUG), an association of dam owners who promote safe, efficient, economical and environmentally friendly use of hydroelectric power. The group urges outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the many recreational resources that can be found on the rivers in Wisconsin and offers these tips for personal safety near dams:

• Obey all warning signs, barriers and flashing lights, horns and sirens.

• Wear a personal flotation device – a life jacket.

• Always stay outside buoy lines and away from restricted areas near dams.

• Never swim or wade near a dam.

• Never boat or fish alone when near a dam.

• Leave your boat motor running to provide maneuvering power.

• Stay clear of spillways. Changing currents and “boiling” waves can make boat control difficult near dams.

• Reverse currents occur below dams. They can pull a boat back toward the dam into the spillway and capsize it.

• Never anchor boats below a dam because water levels can change rapidly.

• Set an example for children, who may not be aware of the dangers, even if they can read. State explicitly where they can and cannot go and make sure you are close to them and can see them at all times.

For more info, visit: Xcel Energy public safety. Website also includes information to help residents respond in a timely fashion in the unlikely event of a dam failure, including inundation maps and details about Xcel Energy’s dam failure sirens.

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