Danger on the River

July 14, 2023

No doubt you have seen - on the news or with your own eyes - the dangerous conditions on the Connecticut River. The devastating floods in Vermont are washing unintentionally released objects (known as “flotsam”) downriver to us. Large tree branches, mattresses, garbage - even some unmoored boats - are moving briskly and causing a real hazard.

Additionally, the high-water level is in itself treacherous. PLEASE refrain from swimming or boating until the water levels fall and conditions stabilize a bit.

Unfortunately, there is not much anyone can do about this situation. Our municipal leaders are watching closely. Seasoned boaters know that trees, logs, and other woody debris that float down river are a naturally occurring phenomenon that boaters have always had to deal with - although these discharges usually happen in the spring after the winter thaw. It is very rare to experience this phenomenon in July.

To read more about what's happening, click HERE for the Middletown Press article. 



In the meantime, here are some resources that might be of help.


Two local companies that recover boats:

How to report damage:

Additionally, regarding damage to boats while underway, boaters can call DEEP Dispatch (860-424-3333), use the USCG (VHF Ch 16), or contact local municipal law enforcement. 

Please keep in mind that boaters who sustain damage greater than $500 are required to submit a boating accident report to DEEP.  The boating accident form can be found on the DEEP boating accident webpage or in the DEEP Boater’s Guide.

Regarding resources for repairs: boaters are responsible for their own repairs and, if insured, can take that avenue. (DEEP has no financial resources available for boat owners, marinas, or private docks for damage sustained from floatable debris, weather, etc.) 

DEEP does not have any resources to manage this type of debris and the USCG will not respond to it unless it is lodged in such a way as to block a federal navigation channel (e.g. in a bridge underpass). DEEP routinely advises boaters to be wary of floating debris in its boating classes and to always keep a keen lookout when underway. 

Broadcast Advisories:

Regarding this event, the Boating Division has broadcast three social media posts regarding the hazards of “boating with debris” as well.

DEEP is using its social channels to warn recreational boaters of the dangers of flood-stage water levels - CLICK HERE for DEEP Facebook posts. 



And finally: yes, I cannot resist the opportunity to put in a plug for civic engagement. Floods (such as that in Vermont causing this trouble) and droughts have become far more numerous and more severe because of climate change. https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/billions/

Please consider testifying at the Capitol on environmental bills. It is up to all of us to combat climate change!!