Rainfall delays work on river

Kayakers wait their turn to practice on the Route 3 Wave of the Black River in Watertown in 2007. Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Too much rain this summer prevented city officials from working on reviving a section of the Black River that was popular with kayakers 15 years ago.

Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community development director, said that there was just too much water in the Black River this summer to see whether the city could revive the river’s fast-moving waters known as the Route 3 Wave.

The Route 3 Wave once played host to the World Cup of Kayaking, attracting spectators who filled the river banks in 2006 to watch a world-class kayaking event.

But then Mother Nature pushed a large rock literally into its way, blocking the natural wave, and interest in kayaking on the Black River faded.

Last spring, city officials talked about doing something about fixing the problem with the rocks that caused kayakers to lose interest in the spot. In 2008, spring flooding pushed a boulder into the Route 3 Wave section, altering the hydraulics that attracted kayakers to it.

Plans called this summer for the Hunts Dive Shop to complete a survey of the river’s bottom to see what could be done to revive the Route 3 Wave, with the hopes of removing the rock debris next summer. The dive shop worked on the Route 3 Wave spot years ago.

“We’re going to have to put it off until next year and hope the water is lower,” City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said.

During budget deliberations last spring, the City Council appropriated $75,000 in the 2021-22 city budget to restore the popular kayaking spot.

The funding will come from the Black River Trail Fund, which was put together when the city received a license from the Federal Energy Regulation Commission for the city’s hydroelectric plant decades ago.

In 2006, the Black River hosted a North American freestyle kayaking World Cup event that attracted competitors from more than 25 countries.

That year, high water levels forced the competition from the Route 3 Wave to Hole Bros., where it was held for two more years before the city’s kayak craze dried up.

City officials hope to revive interest in the sport locally.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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