Drought Leaves Water Hazards for Boaters

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Douglas Lake, Sevier County (WVLT) - The drought is definitely impacting fun on the water across East Tennessee.

From stumps and rocks, to exposed sand bars, you've got to be careful.

Volunteer TV’s Stephen McLamb went along and caught a few people having a lot a lot of trouble on the water.

With low lake levels on Douglas Lake, conservation officers are seeing a lot of people trying to go through places they could if levels were normal.

"The marina, places like that are reporting lots of boats running aground. A lot of prop damage this year,” says TWRA Officer Matt Cameron.

"I'm a Sevier county native and I've never seen it this low,” says Randy Suttles.

Officer Matt Cameron estimates Douglas Lake is 20 feet below normal because of the lack of rainfall.

And this is something you can see. "At night, boaters that didn't know this would run aground and be in trouble in a hurry,” Cameron says.

Cameron says boaters need to be especially careful at night because it can be more than your boat that's damaged. "We had an accident a couple weeks ago where a vessel ran aground and there was serious injury involved in that a lady was thrown from the boat. A leg was broken."

Some longtime residents say they know this lake like the back of their hand, but admit the low levels are causing them some problems.

"I was just coming through and my alarm went off on my depth finder saying I was in four feet of water and we was out in the middle of the lake so you've got to be careful,” says Harold Brown.

Even TWRA officers say they're having to be careful with their boats, especially their 26 footer, on loan from SeaRay.

Unless there is a very large amount of rainfall, Cameron says they expect the rest of the year to be low ,so people need to be careful.

He reminds boaters that any serious injury or estimated boat damage of $2,000 or more must be reported to the TWRA within 48 hours.