NEILLSVILLE, Wis. (CLARK/JACKSON COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT NEWS RELEASE) -- Due to unexpected equipment malfunction at the Hatfield Dam, Hatfield operators will begin drawing down Lake Arbutus February 18, 2014 at 10am. Lake Arbutus is expected to be drawn down a total of six feet over the course of 2-3 days. This drawdown will result in a lowering of the water levels on Lake Arbutus. This lowering of water levels will potentially create dangerous conditions on the ice on Lake Arbutus. As a result of the unscheduled drawdown and the potential impact on ice conditions access to Lake Arbutus is being closed.
“Safety is our main concern”, states John Ross Clark County Emergency Management Director. “Once water levels are lowered, we are concerned with the integrity and stability of the ice”.
Snowmobile trails which cross the lake are being closed as well as entry points to the lake including the boat landings to prevent vehicular access onto the ice. “We are urging people to remove their ice shanties from Lake Arbutus immediately”, says Jackson County Emergency Management Coordinator Kristina Page. “It will become extremely unsafe to be on the ice once the drawdown has started”.
The snowmobile trail across Lake Arbutus will be rerouted in Jackson County to Clay School Road to Highway K. The snowmobile trail in Clark County will be rerouted via County Rd J to Clark County Trail Intersection Number 1. The Black River snowmobile crossing at Black River Falls will also be closed. It is unknown how long access to Lake Arbutus will be closed.
Clark and Jackson County officials are working on the posting of closure signs to inform people to stay off the ice.
People should not venture out onto the ice for any reason once the drawdown has begun.
Clark County and Jackson County officials are monitoring the situation and will provide updates as necessary.