Local News

Low Lake Levels Pose Boating Hazard

Posted August 31, 2007 5:33 p.m. EDT
Updated August 31, 2007 9:19 p.m. EDT

— The drained lakes caused by the continuing drought across North Carolina initially led to water restrictions and could soon result in boating restrictions.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said area lake levels are so low that boaters are constantly in danger of hitting something that was safely underwater just days or weeks ago.

The dangers "could be stones, rock formations, trees," said Tom Freeman of the Corps of Engineers. "Falls Lake has a very varied terrain. It has wide open expanses. It has narrow, more river like settings."

Falls Lake is down almost 5 feet from normal levels, while Jordan Lake is down more than 3 feet and Kerr Lake is down almost 7 feet. Lake Gaston, which is controlled by a dam, is slightly above normal levels.

Freeman said the water level at Falls Lake is dropping so fast that it's impossible to keep up with warning markings for boaters, which means boaters have to look out for themselves.

"You've got to use diligence and watch the lake closely," he said, adding that the lake is about 3 feet above the lowest level recorded two years ago.

Boater Joanna Gleeson said she was on the lookout as she cruised the lake Thursday.

"I kind of was expecting it to be this low. In fact, we were afraid that we might not even be able to try out the boat," Gleeson said. "You just need to be really careful."