High water levels make lake safer for swimmers and boaters - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

High water levels make lake safer for swimmers and boaters

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Paddling across J. Strom Thurmond Lake is the perfect getaway for this couple on vacation.

"We are kayaking, enjoying the day, going fishing having lunch," said Kevin Boyd.

Kevin and Kelly say they usually kayak on the river, but lately the current has been calmer at the lake. That's because the CSRA is getting more rain than it has in the past few years. The water levels have risen, just 3 ½ feet below normal; making it safer for swimmers and boaters.

"There's a lot of trees that stick up when the lake gets so low," said Capt. Dave Willard, US Coast Guard licensed fishing guide. "You get your average boater on the weekend who may not know these things and he'll hit underwater obstacles and that's dangerous."

As summer rolls around more people are coming out to the lake. And there are some safety tips to keep in mind before venturing in the water.

"We encourage children and adults alike to always wear a life jacket," said Chrissy Westerberg, recreation chief ranger.

Clarks Hill Park has more water in their designated beach areas because of higher lake levels.

"The lower lake levels result in people swimming farther out in the lake, which there are unknown drop-offs," Ranger Westerberg said.

"Last year a teenage boy drowned off of this beach because he wasn't wearing a life jacket. And rangers say these vests can only save lives if you have it on."

Back in April the 15-year-old fell off a small raft, panicked then drowned. Rangers advise people to stay out of the water if you can't swim. Otherwise wear a life jacket that fits properly. And they encourage swimmers not to drink alcohol if you're going in the water.

Park rangers want to keep accidents down this season. So whether you're swimming, going out on the boat or kayaking, they ask visitors practice safe water habits.

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