Low water levels at Marion Reservoir and Marion County Lake caused by ongoing drought have caused problems at both lakes, but the low water is also creating opportunities not normally present.
Marion County Lake is about 5 feet below normal pool, Park and Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson said Monday. So far, the biggest problem at the county lake is the reduced recreational area, he said. If the lake stays at its current level, there won’t be as much room for boaters next summer.
“Instead of a mile and a half track, it might be a mile track,” Hudson said.
However, the water isn’t so low that boat ramps at the county lake are unusable.
“We’re down, but not out,” Hudson said.
Marion Reservoir’s boat ramps may be closed because of low water, though, said Park Ranger Scott Dodson. The water level at the reservoir is about 4 feet below normal.
“When the water level is lower than normal, we do close down boat ramps for safety concerns and advise the people to use caution during low water levels since hazards — logs, debris — may not be visible,” Dodson said.
But the low water levels aren’t all bad for the lakes, provided the lakes fill back up soon. Workers at both lakes have been able to do shoreline work and cleanup below the usual water level. It also can improve fish habitat, because vegetation may grow in the areas uncovered by drought. When the water rises again, that vegetation will be good for fish, Dodson said.
Workers at the county lake have been able to do work on the swimming beach that would have been difficult otherwise, as well.
“It gave us an opportunity to put four truckloads of sand on the beach,” Hudson said.
And the low water levels haven’t done anything to slow down fishing yet. Hudson said about 300 crappie were caught at the heated fishing dock on Saturday and Sunday.