Low Water Level At Fort Gibson Lake May Be Hazardous For Boaters

Saturday, June 18th 2011, 5:36 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

FORT GIBSON LAKE, Oklahoma -- One Green Country lake has a warning for boaters trying to beat the heat this summer. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has lowered Fort Gibson Lake to below normal.

06/15/2011 Related Story: Low Water Level Warning Issued For Fort Gibson Lake

There are still fun places to boat, but there's also new hazards. Contractors are working on the flood gates at the Fort Gibson Dam, which is why the water level has to be kept low.

"They've been trying to keep it a foot and a half below normal," said Darvin McClellan of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Workers are updating and repainting the flood gates using federal stimulus money. But the lower water levels that are allowing the project to move forward are also causing some snags.

"Rock jetties that have come up, submerged islands," McClellan said.

McClellan said recent rains raised the lake level for a while, but now that they've dropped again, boaters may need a reminder.

"We usually get a couple of phone calls a week saying that they hit a sandbar or have hit something out there," McClellan said.

And some of the hazards just below the surface can sock it to your wallet.

"Very expensive, some of the props are $300-$500. Lower units, gosh, I don't even know how much it's going to cost," he said.

Luigi Seguro is about to find out. We found him beached right next to a buoy that indicates a hazardous, shallow area.

"I crashed the boat right into the middle of the rocks," Seguro said.

Under normal conditions, Seguro wouldn't have hit the rocks. Rangers want boaters to pay attention to the additional buoys they've placed out during the project and play it safe.

"I'm very familiar and I think that I was too confident because I've been here so many times, but when you are too confident, accidents happen," Seguro said.

The project will last at least a year, if not a full two years, so the water level will be below normal that entire time.

Park rangers are also watching boat ramps at Fort Gibson Lake and have barricaded some that are unsafe because of the lower water level.