Local News

Drought Affects Playtime, Too

Posted August 7, 1999

— So far, the prolonged drought has affected the way we water lawns and gardens. But it also has had an impact on our playtime -- when the activities include boating or swimming.

In fact, the drought can lead to dangerous circumstances -- especially when people don't adjust to the changed conditions.

"The water level is usually up where they are at the beach," says Chris Davis as he surveys Jordan Lake. "It's usually up to my knees."

The water that used to reach Chris Davis' knees is only ankle deep now.

Jordan Lake has dropped 3 feet because of the drought. In the swimming areas, there just isn't much water to splash around in these days.

"Usually it's 5 feet at the yellow line and now my littlest ones can swim like they want," Davis said.

It may be fun for the little kids, but park rangers say it's dangerous. Swimmers are supposed to stay inside the yellow lines. But the water is so shallow right now that many swimmers are ignoring that rule.

"The bottom drops sharply, they can find themselves over their heads unexpectedly. There's always a chance of drowning from that," said park ranger Mark Flaugher.

Flaugher points out other hazards on Jordan Lake. Old roads that have been submerged for years are exposed now. Tree stumps stick out of the shallow water. And sandbars jut out across the lake.

"That's the sandbar. A lot of boaters will come around this point just wide open, not realizing it's only a foot or two deep," Flaugher said.

Flaugher helped one boater avoid a collision with a pile of rocks sitting just 6 inches below the surface.

"He could have definitely run right over it and not had a clue it was there."

Park rangers say they will probably start putting up signs this week to warn boaters and swimmers of the low water levels, and the potential hazards.

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