Local Lake Levels Drop, Boaters Beware
Posted November 4, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST
KERR LAKE — North Carolina is parched and the best place to see the impact is at area lakes. The Army Corps of Engineers released a drought report Thursday indicating Kerr Lake, Falls Lake and Jordan Lake are all down three to four feet. Right now the main impact is on recreation, but the corps is concerned that the problem could escalate.
Many things that are supposed to be underwater at Kerr Lake are now on dry land. Falls Lake Dam is usually a rushing torrent - now it is a trickle at the mouth of the Neuse.
The Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of Kerr, Falls and Jordan Lake. Officials say there are three stages of drought response plans. With all the lakes low, the corps wants to inform the public that the local area is at level one.
"We're at the first stage," says Tom Freeman of the Army Corps of Enginners, "where our goal is to inform boaters and fishermen on the lake, and advise them of underwater hazards that they might encounter as the pool continues to drop."
At boat ramps all over the area's man-made lakes, boaters are passing the word where the new low water hazards are. What is usually at the bottom of the lake is now on top.
"Lower the water gets, the more cautious you have to get," boater Jerry Warren said. "I find things I ride on top of normally that are sticking out of the water now, so I have to be more cautious. If you hit the wrong spot you could tear the bottom off your boat. They clean this lake pretty good, but now it's the stumps and rocks that are the big problem."
Whether or not the drought problem goes from boat owners to home owners all depends on the weather.
"We have had some beautiful weather, but the downside of that is the reservoir has dropped and continues to drop at a slow but steady rate," Freeman said.
Orange County and Greensboro are also facing water shortages, and have issued restrictions on water usage. Public utilities directors in Raleigh and Durham say reservoirs would have to drop several more feet to cause them to impose any restrictions.