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Summersville Lake Marina closing early due to drought

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 6:38 PM EDT
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SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The first stages of drought are bringing an early end to the summer boating season for some people at Summersville Lake.

Around 50 boats that are located at slips along the lake’s bank must be removed by this Sunday, according to marina management. They are in danger of being beached as the lake’s water level has dropped around a foot from the normal summer level. The Army Corps of Engineers said this is due to the lack of rain and their requirement to continue allowing water to flow downriver from the dam.

“Our first goal here is flood risk management at the end of the day,” Park Ranger David Cooney said. “Our secondary goal here is recreation, so it is very unfortunate that some boaters are going to have to pull their boats out.”

“At the end of the day, we have a responsibility to do those low flow augmentations and keep dissolved oxygen levels and water flowing down stream,” Cooney continued.

Boat owners said they are upset their seasons are being cut so short and have been shocked by the falling water level. Kara Leggett said the lake is normally full at this time of the year and is praying for rain to turn the drought conditions around.

“It’s a bummer that you can’t be using the boat like you paid for, and being out and having fun,” Leggett said. “This is a flood control lake, so it is understandable that they need the water for flood control, but it’s also a recreational lake.”

“It was a little concerning because our boat is docked on the bank here,” Leggett said. “We are not going to be able to pull it in and out, and get to it as easy as we did before.”

“It’s extremely unfortunate,” boat owner Bill Anderson said. “A lot of people have, a lot of people not from here come here to do their vacationing, and I guess they will have to go rock climbing instead of swimming in the lake.”

Anderson said he has not seen a level this low in around 25 years, and is concerned his boat could be at risk if the water continues to fall.

This low of a water level is not normally seen for another two months, when the dam is opened up for white water rafting lower on the river. Boaters will still be allowed to use the lake from other slips or the lake’s access ramps.

“If the water comes back up later in the season, they are more than welcome to pull their boat back in,” marina employee Zackery Toler said. “But, right now for their boat safety, just out of concern for that, they’ve got to be out pretty soon.”

Cooney said the low water level is causing other problems at the lake by exposing rocks, sandbars and branches that are normally well below boats. Things could get even worse if it doesn’t rain soon, with the water level projected to fall another foot by the end of August.

Toler said more boats could be forced to leave their slips in the coming days and weeks if the water level continues to fall at this rate.

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