Local News

Low Water Keeps Labor Day Boaters On Shore

Posted September 3, 2007 9:10 p.m. EDT

— A Labor Day on the lake seemed the perfect ending to the last summer holiday weekend, but low water levels posed dangers to boaters at Kerr Lake.

The water in the lake has dropped 7 feet, forcing the closure of two of the seven boating ramps on the North Carolina side of the lake.

Barry Norton said he and his family were concerned about low levels at the lake at least two weeks ago.

"It's much lower now, so I'm almost hesitant to go out," Norton said.

Although there have been no accidents reported so far, wildlife officials are encouraging that caution in boaters on Kerr Lake.

"If people who are putting in at the ramps that are open, if they get out there, they actually could hit the shoals," said Eddie Vaughan, a wildlife-resource officer. "They could hit some points that have become more shallow than normal."

Signs placed around Kerr Lake warned of danger, low water and closed boat ramps, prompting many boaters to stay on shore.

"No, I'm not putting mine in. I leave it right here," boater Gary Khun said. "I got a pontoon boat. I'm not going to take that chance."

"You got a lot of stumps on up the lake. You got some shallows up there," boater Jerry Abbot said. "I don't really know it that good, so I'm staying out of it."

Several boaters said their propellers were damaged on the bottom of the lake.

If rains do not relieve the drought soon, wildlife officials predicted more areas of the lake could start to dry up.

"Eventually, ... if it got low enough, I think that most of the ramps would be shut down," Vaughn said.

Vaughn urged boaters to pay attention to the signs and exercise extra caution while on the water. Boaters should also avoid the shallows and stay inside the channel markers.

Anyone on the water should wear life jackets at all times.