President's Corner


 

We Are All About Water Safety...

 

There is no doubt we have had some challenging times lately with the rainy spells and hurricanes and its impact on water levels at Lake Gaston. Our Dec/Jan bulletin provided a larger picture and the connection with Kerr Lake, and local inflows that impact our water levels.

 

The LGA works closely with Dominion Energy and we aresome notified when we are in Flood Operations. From this notification we quickly notify our members via email, hopefully allowing time for everyone to secure boats and items on and around boat docks. As you may recall, our “Good Neighbor Policy" with Dominion Energy is to keep the water levels at 201.5 ft. msl. We realize that even at 201.5 feet, this level is problematic for some residents. We should remember the United State Army Corp of Engineers agreement indicates we can go to 203.5 ft. msl. Our meetings with Dominion Energy twice a year provides the opportunity to broaden our communications and to keep our “Good Neighbor Policy" in place.

 

Corey Chamberlain, Hydro/Renewables System Support Consultant has informed us that: “Dominion Energy has been working closely with the Corps of Engineers to handle the high flows that have been occurring since the end of September. During this period, these flows have come not just from Kerr Reservoir but from local stream flows directly into the lakes and the goal has been to safely operate all three dams, minimize flooding all along the river system including the lakes, restore the flood storage capacity of Kerr Reservoir and to continue fulfilling the requirements of the Federal license. Dominion has been able to maintain lake levels below the agreed maximum and is not expecting the water level to be any higher than it has already been, but until the weather pattern changes and Flood Operations end, we expect water levels to remain higher than normal throughout the system of lakes and on the river downstream.

 

We ask residents to be mindful of their safety and the protection of their property.

 

We appreciate your calls to keep us informed about conditions around the lake. We will continue to keep you informed about the lake system overall process and our efforts to keep you safe.

 

Looking forward to warmer weather!

 

Mozine, President

 


 

What's Happening With Lake Gaston Water Levels?

How lake levels are managed

 

Lake Gaston is in the middle of a complex system of lakes and waterways spanning two states.

 

At a top level, the primary purpose of Kerr Lake is flood control (other purposes include power generation and recreation). The primary purpose of Lake Gaston (LKG) and Roanoke Rapids (RR) Lake is power generation (other purposes include recreation and flood control). The US Army Corps of Engineers owns and operates Kerr dam and is responsible for flood control in the Roanoke River basin. Dominion Energy owns and operates LKG and RR dams.

 

The Corps decides how much water flows out of Kerr Dam, which then flows through LKG, RR and then downstream.

 

Dominion then schedules releases based on power generation needs. Per their license and laws, Dominion is required to keep Lake Gaston in the Normal range except during the Spring fish spawning time and during Flood Operations (see the details in the box on page 2), when they are allowed to exceed Normal level.

 

We go into Flood Operations when the Corps decides it has to release a lot of water from Kerr (20,000 cubic feet per second or more).

 

What we saw this year

 

Through much of this year the conditions were very dry, even officially in drought. During that time, LKG levels were usually in the normal range.

 

This fall, Mother Nature ramped up the rainfall, sending two hurricanes and some other significant rain events our way (and also way up river in the Roanoke River watershed). For example, in both September and October, we had seven times the average amount of water for this time of year flowing into Kerr Lake!

 

As a result, we have spent a lot of time officially in Flood Operations. Between 9/22 and 10/31, we were in Normal Operations just 8 days and in Flood Operations the remaining 32 days. During all that time in Flood Operations, Dominion was allowed to let LKG levels rise and yet there were less than a half dozen days that were above the normal range!

 

What it all means

 

This means that not only was Dominion managing the lake level to at or below the “Good Neighbor" policy target of 201.5', but most of the time it was down in the Normal range! It means we avoided sustained high water levels that threaten the shoreline and docks.

 

It also means that we passed along warnings that lake levels could rise (they could have) and then it did not come to pass. I think we can agree it is better to be safe than sorry in such cases and be thankful the levels stayed lower.

 

Until next time!

 

~ Don Carson, LGA Vice President

 


Eaton Ferry Bridge Construction Project

The construction project slated to perform rehabilitation of the Eaton Ferry Bridge, as well as perform causeway repairs, is scheduled to begin mid-July. The schedule continues through May 23, 2019. The contract has a few stipulations in regards to limitation of 2-way traffic across the bridge; Through the Tuesday after Labor Day (9/4/2018), limitation to 2-way traffic can only occur Monday through Thursday, at any time, EXCEPT during the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. as well as 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. That means that anytime outside those hours, limitation to 2-way traffic can occur. That also means that no limitation in 2-way traffic can occur from 5:00 a.m. Friday through 10:00 p.m. Sunday.

 

After 9/4/2018, Lane Closures can occur at any time except during our general holiday schedule, which will overlap Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Years, and Easter. Traffic limitations will occur via a temporary automatic raffic signal or flagging operation on smaller closures. These closures, due to limitations stated within the contract, should not interfere with any planned in regards to vehicular traffic.

 

Marine traffic will be affected by this project as well. At all times, the contractor is required to maintain at least 2 open bays for marine traffic underneath the bridge. This project includes concrete repairs on the bridge interior bents (concrete columns that go into the water). The contractor will be constructing a temporary structure/trestle underneath the bridge to allow for the workers to access underneath the bridge for repairs and painting be done. This will be in place during a significant portion of the project. There will be clear delineation via buoys in the water to promote the path marine traffic is to maintain.

 

In regard to emergency vehicles, a separate meeting will be held with the local officials to discuss emergency vehicle access. The temporary automatic traffic signal is equipped to determine an emergency vehicle is in need of crossing the bridge. The signal can receive notification via a vehicle equipped signal or by the sound of the siren on the vehicle. Once a notification as been received, the signal should turn green to allow the emergency vehicle to pass. This will occur after the last oncoming vehicle has passed to prevent a collision from occurring. More detail will be available at the time of the meeting with emergency officials. Also, Lane Closures are not going to be continuous along the entire causeway/bridge structure. They will only occur where the work is being performed.

 


Overview of presentation at LGA’s Annual meeting on 6/11/16 and links to videos

Mr. Larry Meddock, the Chairman of the Water Sports Industry Association, who first gave a brief personal background and an overview of how the WSIA began and what it does currently, including working with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), the US Coast Guard and other state and federal agencies, to advance safety in the operation and enjoyment of Water Sports products from vessels in all classes to inflatables.

 

Larry identified the two leading causes of accidents, injuries and fatalities as Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and operator inattention. A significant number of incidents resulting from BUI occur during what can be referred to as “Booze Cruises" . These are often at night with poor lighting and too much liquid courage. A number of the operator inattention incidents involve injuries to persons/children being towed on inflatables. Coast Guard statistics reflect that such activity has the highest incidence of accidents of all causes.

 

Larry showed several videos including one addressing the life changing results of a night “Booze Cruise" which resulted in the collision of a vessel with a dock resulting in multiple injuries and one fatality. Such accidents are easy to avoid with proper planning and execution to include assuring that the vessel operator is not intoxicated by having a designated abstaining driver. Watch the VIDEO.

 

Larry then showed a CGI (computer generated image) video that highlighted all of the major rules and guidelines for safe towing of skiers, boarders, and inflatables. Studies have identified greater public acceptance without bias based responses to CGI representation of people rather than live models/actors. Larry provided a handout available from WSIA that includes a summary of the rules and guidelines for safe towing. The videos show the safest practices including those associated with towing multiple inflatables. Watch the VIDEO.

 

He also showed a short video addressing operator courtesy when operating “Wake" boats including methods for sharing the water and maintaining healthy relationships between people enjoying the water in different ways. He last addressed some of the current activity looking at how to make use and wear of life jackets more automatic for all ages just as the use of seat belts in vehicles has become. Watch the VIDEO.