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The left-channel (in Waterford, around a large island filled with condos) has a uniform-lip cement wall/dam, from which water spills into a shallow, rocky outflow. Since pool height is regulated by the main dam (in the other channel), there would rarely (if ever) be enough flow here to cover the considerable amount of shallow rock to allow any chance at passage (or any sort of play) in any paddle-craft.
The main dam has two releasable lift-gates. Water sheets horizontally across the cement slab of the dam, then pours off that slab into the pool. Air pockets form behind the flow (creating a lighter root-beer-colored effect) before it meets the pool below. This 'curtain' of water pouring into such a chaotic 'hole' in the pool would make for extreme likelihood of flipping. The entire pool is filled with large rocks which will be just below the surface at virtually all flows, meaning all experience-levels of boaters should never consider playing the outflow from this dam. While the wave/hole might (at some flows) look like it could be surfable/playable, any flips would almost certainly result in bodily impact with rock.
The river is split into a number of channels -- three more-or-less 'main' divisions made by islands before the bridge, with each of those channels then split in two or three by bridge piers. A total of 7 bridge piers make 8 channels (though at least one of those is exclusively a high-water/flood channel which will be dry land most of the time).
The right-most channel (actually, pair or channels, split by a bridge pier) contains the greatest flow (perhaps nearly 30-40% of the flow of the river). The eddy behind the bridge pier here has pretty fair depth (for possible vertical moves -- bow stalls, stern squirts). Downstream, a couple minor riffles may exist before the river runs across wide shallow shoals.
The "virtual gauge" uses a USGS gauge in New Munster, and applies a ratio of drainage areas (drainage area at USGS gauge is reportedly 811 square miles, while drainage at Rochester/Case Eagle Park Dam is 446 square miles). Actual flow may differ (perhaps dramatically) depending upon relative contribution of various tributaries and (likely seldom, but possible) regulation from various dams. Thus expect the gauge to be VERY UNRELIABLE for actual conditions. First-hand visual inspection will always be the only reliable determinant of whether you will have any opportunities here, so be prepared for possible disappointment!
A NOAA (non-USGS) gauge in Burlington (listing drainage of 767 square miles) may be a more accurate tool for the flow in the Calumet Channels.
Assuming proportional contribution to flow, that would imply a ratio of about 95% of the flow on the USGS gauge being present at the Calumet Channels. (We have not yet confirmed that this comes close to reality. In fact, at least during winter, with ice affecting flows, recent values on the NOAA gauge have been more nearly just 70% of the USGS gauge, a significant deviation.)While we are unable at present to poll the data from the NOAA gauge to display it and color-code this reach using it, we can display the graph, as should appear below. Note the graph shows results in local time, while associated data are "UTC", Coordinated Universal Time". To convert to local time, CST (Central Standard Time) is UTC minus 6 hours. In summer, CDT (Central Daylight Time) is UTC minus 5 hours.Click here for tabular data which shows cfs, using Central Time.
This is one of the larger drainages in S.E.Wisconsin, so the river itself will contain adequate flow for flatwater paddling almost any time the river is not frozen.
Gauge/flow analysis (based on USGS data, 1939.10.01-2008.11.15)
Minimum daily mean flow during record period (1958.09.09): 35 cfs
90% of time flow exceeds: 130 cfs
10% of time flow exceeds: 1,300 cfs
Maximum daily mean flow during record period (1960.04.01): 7,100 cfs
10/90 ratio ('flashy-ness'): 10 (under 3 is quite steady, over 10 is quite 'flashy')
Permits are not required for this reach.
As far as whitewater interest goes, this is best done (such as it is) as individual 'park-and-play' areas, so shuttle is on foot. Therefore, we have set the info below to show distance, time, and directions from your home area. We have also set put-in/take-out coordinates for this section to be within the Case-Eagle Park, since this is the most likely (of the three areas listed) to hold any actual whitewater interest. Use maps and smart-phone apps to work out directions for other locations, if/when desired.
You can use the text entry box below to enter your home or other starting address (not just zip, but an address in virtualy any format, including lat/lng) to get more specific drive time, distance, and directions to the Case-Eagle Park.
Waterford Dam, Low Water
Rochester - release gates
Rochester - left-side sluice
Waterford - main dam - wide view
Waterford - main dam - closeup
Waterford - main dam
Waterford - Left-channel dam - wider view
Waterford - Left-channel dam
Calumet Channels (2)
Calumet Channels (1)
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American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
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