News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012
CLARKS HILL, S.C. -- Labor Day weekend is usually very busy out at the lake, but if you were out there Saturday, you may have seen a different story. What they are were expecting to be a busy weekend is off to a slow start.
Kenneth Crowder and his family brought their boat out to the lake for Labor Day weekend.
"Just a family outing for the day," he said.
When he got there, he was shocked to see the lack of people out on the water.
"It's a three-day weekend," he said. "I expect to see a lot more people out here on Saturday."
And he's not the only one. Many boaters on the lake were expecting a much bigger showing on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
"Right now it looks like it would normally look in the middle of the week," said boater Chris Mcalister. "Maybe a Tuesday or Wednesday."
"We got Labor Day weekend, we're out here at the lake and there's nobody here," added Park Ranger David Quebedeaux with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Some of the busiest beaches stayed pretty empty throughout the day and a lot less boats filled the lake than years past.
"We live up here close to the lake and I was just mentioning to a friend of mine that the traffic has probably less than 50 percent," Mcalister said. "The lake levels have just damaged the amount of activities that are on the lake."
Lake levels that despite the rain have a been a constant issue this summer.
"There are a lot of things that are not operational," Quebedeaux said. "Our designated swim beaches are dry. Not all of our boat ramps are operational at this point, but there are plenty of ramps to go around."
The water levels on Saturday were 11 feet below normal.
"You can be in the middle of the lake and come up with areas that are 80 foot of water at one time and 2 foot of water a few seconds later," Crowder said.
Something that's dangerous for the boats and the people in them.
"A lot of folks don't wanna come up here and take the risk of ruining their boat or having a family member get hurt," Mcalister said. "It takes a lot of the environment out of it."
Despite the low levels, the main channels are still clear. Just make sure you are always aware of where you are and the Army Corps of Engineers say you should keep a depth chart with you at all times.
They have also had three drownings in the past year so they are watching very closely this weekend. The Department of Natural Resources, law enforcement officers and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are all out there over the weekend just making sure you are staying safe.