Take Action: Navigating Low Lake Levels Safely
Lake Norman is currently more than two-and-a-half feet below its target water levels, raising concerns for boaters and residents alike. As the lake's depths shrink, it's essential to exercise extra caution when venturing out onto the water. Jeff Junker, owner of Carefree Boat Sales and Mountain Creek Marina, emphasizes the need for vigilance during this period.
"Being very cautious is paramount, as some boat owners may encounter difficulties trying to launch their boats from their lifts due to the lower water levels," Junker advises. For newcomers to Lake Norman, he suggests taking the time to familiarize themselves with the lake's shallower areas, even if the water rises by a foot or more.
A critical tool in these conditions is a depth meter, which helps boaters gauge water depths accurately. If in doubt, Kevin Scott, owner of JK Marine Service in Cornelius, stresses the importance of stopping the boat and assessing the situation. Safety should always be the top priority.
Low water levels can affect smaller boats differently than larger ones. Some smaller vessels may ride lower in the water when fully loaded, which further underscores the need for caution and vigilance.
Currently, Lake Norman's water level is approximately five feet below its full pond capacity, which is around six inches above the minimum required levels, according to Duke Energy's Current Lake Levels report. As the lake's shorelines have changed over time, with rolling farmland now submerged beneath the waters, hidden hazards and shifting depths can catch boaters off guard.
To navigate these fluctuating conditions, Michael Miltich, captain of the Carolina Grace charter vessel, advises sticking to the main channel to steer clear of potential shoals. He highlights a helpful trick for assessing the depth – examining the adjacent shoreline. If the land by the water's edge is steep, it typically indicates deeper water. Conversely, a gently sloping shoreline often suggests shallower areas in the lake.
Moreover, low water levels provide an opportunity to inspect for shoreline erosion issues and other submerged hazards, as mentioned by Jeff Junker.
In conclusion, while Lake Norman's lower water levels may present challenges for boaters and residents, with the right knowledge and precautions, everyone can enjoy the lake safely. Vigilance, a depth meter, and an understanding of the lake's changing contours are key to ensuring a smooth and secure experience on the water.