- Associated Press - Monday, May 19, 2014

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Riverboat operators say high water is preventing them from beginning their season on the Mississippi River in Dubuque.

Don Vogt, director of the Dubuque Public Works Department, said the river level must fall to 16 feet before the floodgates at Ice Harbor can be opened, the Telegraph Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1neeVk6 ). Recent figures from the National Weather Service show the level was more than 17 feet. Projections say it will rise to about 18 feet by Tuesday.

Recent heavy rainfall in the Wisconsin and Minnesota river valleys are to blame for rising river levels this year, Vogt said. He added that high river levels have become more common.

“If you look at the last 20 years and compare that time frame with the last 50 years, we haven’t had the huge floods, but we have seen elevated water levels a lot more frequently than we did in the past,” Vogt said.

Operators say they’re monitoring developments.

“We are ready to go the minute they open the floodgates,” said Nancy Webster, who co-owns Dubuque River Rides. “But every time we think the river is going down, it flattens out or it goes up again.”

Jon Roth, co-owner of S.W.A.T. River Tours, wanted to debut his new business on May 1. He now might have to wait until June.

“We are checking the (National Weather Service) website daily to see the rise and the fall of the river, we’re talking to the city, we’re just monitoring things however we can,” he said.

Vogt said officials hope operators will be out on the river soon.

“Right now, it looks like Ice Harbor will be closed through Memorial Day weekend,” he said.

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com