Lower lake levels could pose dangers to Labor Day boaters
Updated On: Aug 31 2012 10:06:30 PM CDT
It's the last holiday of the summer season, and the lakes are already starting to fill up with boaters ready to soak in that last bit of summer sun. But boaters beware; this Labor Day you need to take extra precautions.
Boaters have just a few warm weeks left to make the most of the water, and this Labor Day, the lakes are expected to be packed.
"Pretty low key right now, but it's going to ramp up quick," said boater Jonathan Lewis.
But as Fall slowly creeps in, that summer-time water starts to creep out as lake levels make their annual drop.
"It drops to make electricity, and it's cheaper for TVA to make electricity running water though the turbines than it is to buy coal or gas or oil," explained Dale Thomas, owner of Laurel Marina on South Holston Lake.
We took a boat ride through South Holston Lake and saw where the shore is already gaining ground. We learned the lake has already dropped about nine feet since the high point of the water level during the spring.
And when the water level falls, the dangers rise. "There [is] always the possibility of submerged rocks [and] islands that are not present when the lakes are at full pool," said Matt Swecker, a Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency boating officer.
Even with buoys that warn people of hidden dangers, we learned TWRA responds to accidents involving shallow land or rocks every year.
Even seasoned boaters told us it's not hard to do if you aren't paying close attention or aren't familiar with the lake. "I've done that a few times, sharpened my boat prop on a few rocks," said Lewis, "especially when we first started getting on the lake."
So if you do find yourself on the water for the holiday weekend, some say take mental notes that may helpful when next summer rolls around. "It's a good time of year to go out as the lake goes down, so as a boater you know where these shallow points are when the lake's coming back up," said Thomas.
With lots of boaters expected out on our lakes this weekend, TWRA officers remind us shallow water isn't the only danger. You'll need to keep an eye out for more lake traffic, and of course always wear a life jacket.
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