President's Corner


We Are All About Water Safety...


It’s a pleasure to take the helm from Mike Klein after his two years of service as the president of the Lake Gaston Water Safety Council (LGWSC). We are a small organization with less than 100 members when compared to the Lake Gaston Association. However, the two organizations share many goals and members so that is good news.


A word about me as the new president. Like my predecessors, I too have a deep appreciation and respect for the water. I learned to sail and crew as a teenager on a 32ft racing sailboat. My first boat was a 12ft flat board sailboat. I took my first Coast Guard Safe Boating course in the 70’s when I bought a 16ft shoal draft sailboat which my wife, Chris and I learned to sail out on Lake Erie sharing the water with much larger boats including 800ft+ lake freighters.


earned to sail out on Lake Erie sharing the water with much larger boats including 800ft+ lake freighters. Fast forward a lifetime and we now have a house on the lake at about Mile Marker 5.5 and enjoy taking our 24ft Avalon pontoon boat out whenever we can. It’s been fun teaching the adult son about the water and now the grandson. More on that later. I’m also proud to say I took my second Coast Guard Safe Boating class as a refresher just a couple of years ago here at the lake.


I hope to report next time on our plans for the LGWSC in 2019 and where we are going. Before closing, I would like to share with you some details about a very recent accident out on the lake involving a speeding bass boat and a slow moving pontoon boat.


Thanks to an alert skipper on the pontoon boat who took evasive action to avoid a collision amidship of his boat and the fact the bass boaters were wearing properly secured life jackets (one was propelled into the water), there was no loss of life and no serious injuries. However, six adults (four on the pontoon boat and two on the bass boat) didn’t see, hear or recognize danger until just before impact.


Even on a clear day in open water, you can never assume all is well. Be careful out there.


Brian Goldsworthy, President, Lake Gaston Water Safety Council



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.




We are fortunate to have great presenters at our monthly LGA meetings. I wanted to share some information from our August and September meetings.