Impacts, Perceptions, and Management of Shoreline Hazards and Water Levels on a Fluctuating Reservoir: A Case Study of the Winnebago System, Wisconsin

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This paper provides the results of a mail survey of 872 residential property owners along the shorelines of the Winnebago System, Wisconsin that determined their hazard experiences, adjustments, and management preferences in regards to fluctuating water levels. While half of the respondents were aware of hazard potentials prior to purchase, properties have been impacted by a range of shoreline hazards from flooding (27%) to high water levels (54%). Principally caused by a combination of storm-driven waves and high water levels, hazard damages are hazard-specific, and tend to relate to either the shoreline directly (e.g. loss of beach, lawn and garden damage) or to structures directly on the shoreline (e.g. shore protection or docks). Similar to other systems, many residents have resorted to structural hazard adjustments, generally as a response to erosion or high water levels. The majority of property owners indicated a preference for water level regulation to reduce shoreline hazards. However, the majority of respondents also would prefer the water levels to remain the same, while the remaining respondents were extremely divided between the various options for target summer and winter water levels, actually preferring levels that would increase hazard potentials. There is a need for a public education program on the Winne bago System that focuses on publicizing the technical limitations of lake level regulation to reduce hazard losses, the range of alternative hazard adjustment strategies, and the financial and technical assistance for hazard management available from various government agencies.


This article was originally published in Lake and Reservoir Management. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Lake and Reservoir Management


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