BOATERS BEWARE: Lake Wausau drawdown on the way (UPDATED)

(Editor’s note: This story will be updated when a decision is made on a drawdown timeline.)

Kayakers, boaters and other water enthusiasts could see their full use of Lake Wausau diminish after Sept. 12, as Domtar prepares to lower the lake level to less than five feet.

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The drawdown, initially planned to begin Sept. 12, is necessary to make routine concrete repairs and complete necessary maintenance on the Rothschild Dam, says Craig Timm, regional public affairs manager for Domtar. “For the safety of all workers, along with having a better final product, Domtar determined that the best course of action to complete the work is to lower the lake level,” Timm wrote.

Domtar officials accepted public comment until Aug. 18 and could change the drawdown date to early summer 2017, according to the Lake Wausau Association website. The possible change was prompted by a flurry of comments from fall season recreational boaters.

The lake will be lowered no more than four inches per day until reaching maximum drawdown levels, leaving many flowage beds completely exposed. No vehicles or ATVs will be allowed on those areas, and metal and/or driftwood collecting are also prohibited by state law.

Pet owners should be aware of an increased risk of blastomycosis, a potentially fatal fungal infection caused by rhizomes that thrive in the soil of lake and river beds. People with weakened immune systems can also be at risk, according to the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services.

This is the first time in 25 years that Lake Wausau has been drained to accommodate Domtar, which expects to begin refilling the lake by Nov. 15. The lake will return to normal levels around Thanksgiving.