Turnout this Memorial Day weekend at area lakes was the worst in years because of high water, marina owners say.
High water turned Memorial Day weekend -- normally a boon for marina owners and lake managers -- into a bust this year.
"We really only ended up with one day that was like a normal weekend day, and that was Monday," said Mark Retonde, owner/manger of Clinton Marina at Clinton Lake.
"I haven't finished all the figures yet, but I know that this is going to be our slowest Memorial Day (weekend) in 16 years."
About 23,200 people -- well below the average 70,000 -- visited Perry Lake for Memorial Day weekend.
The number of Clinton Lake visitors wasn't immediately available, but it was the lowest ever for a Memorial Day weekend, said Dave Rhoades, park manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
High water is to blame. Boaters are having trouble launching their crafts into Clinton and Perry lakes, and campsites and beaches are underwater.
The water level at Clinton was 892.46 feet above sea level -- nearly 17 feet above the normal 875.5 feet. Perry Lake's level was 913.03 -- 21 1/2 feet above the normal 891.5.
Both lakes were discharging water this morning, but the amount of water being released into the Kansas and Wakarusa rivers was only a fraction of capability, Corps of Engineers managers said.
Officials fear high releases of water will aggravate above-flood-level conditions downstream.
About 50 volunteers placed about 350 bags of sand Sunday around the Lake Perry Yacht & Marina restaurant. Wind also damaged several boats and docks in the area, said Bob Best, owner of the restaurant and marina. The amount of damage wasn't immediately known.
Best, who incurred thousands of dollars in damage in the Flood of 1993, said high water this year will cost him an additional $25,000 to $100,000.
"That doesn't speak to the economic loss, the business loss ... that's just the property damage and costs for repairs," he said.
The high water cut off electricity to gasoline pumps on Sunday, Best said.
He said about 100 to 150 boaters used the lake this weekend. That figure normally is 400 or more, he said.
"Unless we get some of this water out of here, any sizable rain will cause us considerably more problems than we have now," Best said.
He said that in a best-case scenario, "If we don't get any substantial rain and we get a good discharge rate ... they could drop (the lake level) 10 feet in a week to 10 days."
Perry was releasing 3,000 cubic feet -- 22,443 gallons -- of water per second. The discharge began Sunday. The maximum discharge rate is about 23,000 cubic feet per second.
Beginning Monday, Clinton was releasing 1,000 cubic feet per second, well below its release capacity of about 7,300 cubic feet per second.
Officials said they were hoping lake levels could be somewhat back to normal for the next big holiday, July 4.