- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Flooding along the Illinois River that has prompted National Weather Service warnings and closed the waterway to boaters for weeks this summer has dampened recreational activities.

Marina owners, boat shop workers and campground managers along the river in central Illinois tell the (Peoria) Journal Star that the high waters have made the season a washout.

“It’s been a disaster this year,” National Marine owner Pat Ward in Peoria Heights said. He noted that the duration of the flooding has made it particularly difficult.

“We usually pump 20,000 gallons of fuel a month in the summer,” Ward said. “But we’re pumping gas now for the first time since the middle of May.”

The weather service has regularly issued flood warnings for the river this summer. On Tuesday, warnings stretched from north of Peoria all the way south to where the Illinois and Mississippi rivers meet, with the Havana and Beardstown areas particularly hard-hit. The Coast Guard closed the river to recreational boating from June 19 to July 24 from Chillicothe to Havana. A 50-mile stretch around Beardstown remains closed.

Mud deposited by Illinois River flooding is 7 to 8 inches thick in some areas at Starved Rock State Park, superintendent Kerry Novak tells the (LaSalle) News Tribune. The Illinois Department of Transportation on Monday provided trucks and heavy equipment to scrape up the mud and dirt left by flooding.

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