With the statewide duck season set to open, winter angling opportunities and those recreational boaters withstanding colder temperatures to continue enjoying their sport, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) reminds boaters of increased hazards in areas with low water levels. Above average temperatures and below average rainfall throughout the year has affected water levels on some reservoirs, rivers and streams. Lower water levels can reveal new obstacles, change flow patterns and provide challenges for even experienced boaters.
TWRA Officer Barry Baird said, “Many people think they know a waterway; but things change quickly with a drop in water levels. Low water levels expose rocks, sandbars or debris and can even change the flow.” Officer Baird continued, “We always remind boaters that simply wearing a personal floatation device (PFD) can save their life.” “We had 15 fatalities in 2015 and the vast majority would have survived if they’d been wearing one.”
When visiting an unfamiliar body of water TWRA Officer Baird lists these reminders:
· Make sure your vessel is in good working condition
· Wear a personal floatation device
· Review waterway maps before navigating for the first time
· Try to take a friend
· Share a float plan with a family member or friend
· Have a proper lookout when navigating any waterway
· Stay diligent when boating, even in familiar waters
· Have all proper safety gear on board
The Tennessee Valley Authority provides water levels and flow rates throughout Tennessee. Visit www.tva.gov for more information.