The heavy rains and swollen rivers we have seen recently have efficiently cleaned the shores upstream, resulting in a massive amount of debris in Grand Lake.
The debris is not only unsightly in the water and on the shorelines, but it can also create hazards for boaters and dock owners around the lake.
With the anticipated increase in boat traffic expected this weekend, GRDA wants to remind folks will enjoy the lakes to use appropriate caution because of the hazards presented by debris on the water.
Boaters are especially vulnerable to the very real impacts when they encounter debris that can often be hidden just under the surface of the water.
The best advice for boaters is to use appropriate caution and, use these tips as well:
- Always check the area around your dock or boat ramp for debris before you launch.
- Designate another person on your boat to help you maintain a proper lookout so you have that second set of eyes to spot dangers on the water.
- Maintain a safe speed, because you can encounter debris at any time, any place and be prepared to react accordingly.
High water levels also increase the erosion impacts to the shoreline of your boat wake.
Remember to always be aware of your boat wake and the impact on others.
Should you see any debris on the surface, much of the danger could be hidden under the water like an iceberg, so give yourself a wide berth or you could lose a lower unit on your motor.
What may look like a simple branch floating downstream may be the top of a large tree or branch below.
Debris will often flow through the lake in fields of debris, so remember that if you see one, there may be more.
Should you encounter a debris field, try to go around it.
If you are forced to go through it, slow your speed, trim your motor up, and try to choose the path of least resistance.
When boating near the shore or in coves, go slow to avoid underwater obstacles such as signposts, picnic tables, trees, stumps and other obstructions that are normally on dry ground.
Objects may be submerged near the shoreline and hidden from view, so maintain a safe distance away from the shore.
In addition to debris, flood level water increases the power of current and water flow, so be observant, maintain safe speeds and remember that the best protection for you and your passengers is to use your kill switch and wear life jackets.
The areas of heavy debris are certainly not where you want to use your water toys such as tubes and wake boards, so play in an area of the lake such as a creek or arm that is relatively protected from the debris, which is normally concentrated in the main channels.
You should also minimize nighttime boating because of the lack of visibility.
Problems for Property Owners
The woody debris we have on the lake presents an entirely different set of problems for those that live on Grand Lake.
Not only is it unsightly, but it will often block or even damage docks on the shore.
GRDA does not have the ability to address the massive influx of woody debris, except in extreme circumstances.
If woody debris is determined to be a navigation hazard, then personnel will be assigned to try to remove it.
Debris that has washed on shore becomes a problem that must be dealt with by the owner of the property.
It is a violation of GRDA regulations for you to dispose of woody debris that has washed up on the shoreline by pushing it back into the water, where it could become a navigation hazard.
If your dock becomes damaged or entrapped with debris, we recommend that you contact a permitted dock installer to help you, if you are not able to clear the debris yourself.
The best method of disposing of woody debris on the shorelines is to cut it up into manageable pieces and burn it.
Regulations restrict the use of petroleum products when burning on the shore, but you can explore the use of other methods of burning, such as a fireplace starter log.
Another thing to pay attention to use electricity around your dock and in the water.
During times of high water it is not unusual for electric currents to be found in the lake in areas that are not typically underwater.
So, be alert, because electricity in the water is NOT something you want to play around with.
All that said…it all boils down to common sense.
Pay attention, don’t be too aggresive out there and respect the other Grand Lake boaters and property owners.
Nobody is telling you NOT to have a good time, just be careful out there.