Georgia’s worst drought in more than 100 years is beginning to take its toll on lake levels. In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has “temporarily” closed all boat ramps on a Georgia lake due to low water levels.
On Friday, September 7, the corps issued a press release announcing the closure of all corps boat ramps on Carters Lake. All boat ramps on Carters are corps ramps.
“This is a drought-related measure,” said LuAnn Lackey, Carters Lake project manager. “We had kept the ramps open as long as possible, but with the lake steadily going down, most of the ramps are out of the water and unusable.”
On the morning of September 7 during power generation, the lake level at Carters reached a low of 1055 feet, 19 feet below normal summer pool. Because Carters is a pump-back reservoir, lake levels fluctuate.
The ramps will be closed indefinitely until rainfall raises the lake level to a level consistently above 1055, said Lackey.
In early August, with water levels dropping and a record-setting drought continuing, the corps closed several ramps on the lake. While the lake level continued to drop, no contingency plans were made to address the possibility of an extended drought causing all ramps to become unusable.
“Because of the nature of the lake, most of the ramps are steep and end in drop-offs,” said LuAnn. “Putting gravel at the end of the ramps like you can do at some other lakes isn’t practical here.”
According to Patrick Robbins with the corps Mobile Alabama office, while the lake is down, the corps will look at extending the ramps for low-water conditions.
“My understanding is that we would have to have a recommendation from the project manager about which ramps to extend and what it would cost. Then we would have to look at funding. We are at the tail end of the fiscal year, so funding may be difficult.
Robbins said that the corps would consider ramp modication while the lake was down, but put no timeframe on it.
LuAnn noted that the lake is not closed to boating.
“You can still hand-launch small boats or fish from the bank,” she said.