The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Duke Energy are asking boaters on the Catawba River chain of lakes to slow down and use caution because of the ongoing high water levels of several lakes.
In recent weeks, lake levels have been higher than normal due to heavy rainfall and runoff into lakes.
“The high water can create unsafe boating conditions with submerged and floating debris,” said Erik Christofferson, chief of engineering and lands management for the Wildlife Resources Commission. “It also increases shoreline erosion and impacts shoreline property, such as docks and boathouses. We are asking boaters to reduce their speed and exercise extreme caution until conditions return to normal.”
Boaters are liable for wake damage and should be considerate of shoreline impacts. The impacts are especially magnified in smaller and narrow lakes with coves, such as Mountain Island Lake and Lookout Shoals Lake, where boat wakes quickly reach the shoreline.
Duke Energy has been working to reduce lake levels, which have been ranging from near full pond to as much as two and a half feet above full pond in recent weeks. Additional rainfall, which is forecasted, may result in rapidly changing conditions and will affect how long it will take for lakes to return to normal levels.
Duke Energy is moving water downstream to create storage space in Lake Norman and Lake Wylie to hold additional rain. This is a protective measure to help minimize more flooding in low-lying areas.
“We appreciate the boating public for heeding to this request to help prevent injury and property damage,” said John Crutchfield, Duke Energy’s director of public safety and recreation strategy planning services.
The public can check real-time lake levels and special updates 24 hours a day at http://www.duke-energy.com/lakes/levels.asp and on Duke Energy’s lake information phone line at 800-829-5253.
High water requires increased safety awareness
Dams and spillways can be beautiful to look at, but the water immediately above and immediately beneath them is treacherous. Duke Energy reminds the public to heed warning signs posted near dangerous areas and avoid boating and swimming in these areas. Unusual swirling currents can pull boats and people toward the dam and under the water.
People should watch for increased currents, wear life jackets and stay alert to changing weather conditions.
In addition, high water can sweep heavy debris into the lakes and boaters should stay alert for partially submerged objects.