San Antonio/ Parks & Nature
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Published on May 23, 2024
Drought Impacts San Antonio Lakes as Boaters Face Hidden Hazards Ahead of Memorial Day WeekendSource: Google Street View

As Memorial Day Weekend gears up to be the maiden voyage for many seasonal boaters, it's shaping up to be a rough start, with drought conditions dropping water levels and setting the scene for a landscape of hidden hazards. A report from FOX San Antonio highlighted the dry spell's impact, noting Canyon Lake's plummet to a mere 58% capacity and Medina Lake's drastic reduction to a puddle-like 2.6% fullness.

Officials are waving a caution flag for boaters, warning that newly emerged landmasses and arboreal obstructions are now threatening the usual water routes. Driving the point home, Kimberly Sorensen, Texas Parks and Wildlife Boating Education Manager, told FOX San Antonio, "So, it's really smart to go slow, figure out the water depths and just be safe on our waterway." The ramifications are clear: boat ramps are increasingly out of service, effectively marooning motorboats and leaving paddlers to pick up the slack.

While Canyon Lake still anticipates a sizable turnout this holiday, Medina Lake tells a different tale. Long-time resident Betty Axtell lamented the decline, saying to FOX San Antonio, "Usually, we don't see people on holidays anymore. There's no reason for them to be here. There's no lake. We've got like three feet of water in the lake." It's a stark contrast to the summers past, where businesses thrived, and the lakeside resembled more a "circus" than a drought-stricken area.

With motorboats hit hard by ramp closures, Sorensen observed that more paddle crafts are taking to the waters. "With the closures, motorboats aren't making it into the water, but we are seeing a lot more paddle crafts," Sorensen explained. Amidst the shift, mutual awareness between different water users becomes paramount. "So, if you’re driving a motorboat, you really need to watch out for those smaller vessels, and you just need to be aware of other users," advised Sorensen in her interview with FOX San Antonio.

Dangers loom for swimmers too, who are sorely mistaken for patches of dry land, their usual swim areas. "Right now, those swim areas are basically ground," stated Sorensen, underlining the risk as swimmers venture further and boaters struggle to keep a keen eye on them. This change in the aquatic playground compels both parties to navigate the waterways with increased caution and vigilance.