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Lake Wateree Association looks to improve lake safety

Posted: August 23, 2012 5:49 p.m.
Updated: August 24, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Members of the Lake Wateree Association (LWA) are currently working on a series of new safety initiatives to enhance life at the lake. Former LWA Chairman Ron Kadan said the push for improved safety measures was recently initiated after members of the organization reflected on a deadly boating accident along the shores of Lake Murray in Richland County.

“Two boats collided at night and they had no idea where the people were. It seemingly took forever for the police to find them after they went out there on the water,” Kadan said. “Once we heard that, we knew that we needed to move forward.”

Kadan explained that many of the lake’s 22 island identification signs had deteriorated or had even been stolen over the years.

“We then formed a committee to investigate just what it would take for the signs as far as what it would cost and where we could go to get them made,” Kadan said.

He and fellow LWA member Gary Faulkenberry took the “bull by the horns” and began seeking volunteers at the group’s monthly meetings.

“We had about five different people come on board and we asked, ‘OK, what safety issues are out there besides island signs?’” Kadan said.

In light of the Lake Murray incident, the volunteer team then explored the idea of putting GPS coordinates on all of the signs. Accordingly, if someone gets in trouble, they could dial 911 and indicate the latitude and longitude coordinates to the dispatcher.

Kadan said the signs will also incorporate space for osprey nesting sites in order to protect and augment the bird’s natural environment.

Additionally, the group sent out emails to all LWA members as well as WHOA, a local homeowner’s association that represents neighboring Fairfield County’s side of the lake, to receive any additional feedback.

One area that Kadan said the group will concentrate on is so-called “ski alley.”

“That’s over on the Lugoff side and we’ve heard that people are skiing between two islands there where it’s not very deep and it’s not very wide. That’s dangerous,” he said.

Kadan indicated that Faulkenberry had also expressed a need to coordinate with local fishing tournaments in order to ensure additional hazards do not occur during the competitions.

“When we have a high water event and there’s a fishing tournament, it can get dangerous,” he said. “If people are out there on their property edge cleaning up with logs around, these bass boats can whiz by, create a wake, and that log can hit you or your children or your pets.”

Consequently, the organization wants to incorporate no-wake zone stipulations during periods of declared flooding.

To tie up any loose ends, Faulkenberry, Kadan and fellow LWA members Bob Murphy and Bob Smith spent nearly eight hours surveying the lake for any additional unperceived hazards.

“We went down one side of the lake, up the other, and back down until we did a complete 360 degree view,” Kadan said.

The group also reached out to Kershaw County Council and the Kershaw County Conservation District for extra support. To formalize all the initiatives, they will also present the findings and all the proposals to Duke Energy, which owns the lake, and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

“This is something that’s really important,” he said. “We’re not just a bunch of homeowners on the lake and that’s all we care about. We figured the more backing we had as far as approval, then that would be a good thing.”

He noted LWA hopes to have all the plans finalized by about mid-September.

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