Mr. Larry Meddock, the Chairman of the Water Sports Industry Association, who first gave a brief personal background and an overview of how the WSIA began and what it does currently, including working with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), the US Coast Guard and other state and federal agencies, to advance safety in the operation and enjoyment of Water Sports products from vessels in all classes to inflatables.
Larry identified the two leading causes of accidents, injuries and fatalities as Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and operator inattention. A significant number of incidents resulting from BUI occur during what can be referred to as “Booze Cruises”. These are often at night with poor lighting and too much liquid courage. A number of the operator inattention incidents involve injuries to persons/children being towed on inflatables. Coast Guard statistics reflect that such activity has the highest incidence of accidents of all causes.
Larry showed several videos including one addressing the life changing results of a night “Booze Cruise” which resulted in the collision of a vessel with a dock resulting in multiple injuries and one fatality. Such accidents are easy to avoid with proper planning and execution to include assuring that the vessel operator is not intoxicated by having a designated abstaining driver. Watch the VIDEO.
Larry then showed a CGI (computer generated image) video that highlighted all of the major rules and guidelines for safe towing of skiers, boarders, and inflatables. Studies have identified greater public acceptance without bias based responses to CGI representation of people rather than live models/actors. Larry provided a handout available from WSIA that includes a summary of the rules and guidelines for safe towing. The videos show the safest practices including those associated with towing multiple inflatables. Watch the VIDEO.
He also showed a short video addressing operator courtesy when operating “Wake” boats including methods for sharing the water and maintaining healthy relationships between people enjoying the water in different ways. He last addressed some of the current activity looking at how to make use and wear of life jackets more automatic for all ages just as the use of seat belts in vehicles has become. Watch the VIDEO.
In early June we learned that the US Army Corps of Engineers approved the Quasi Run of the River (QRR). We had received assurances back in April from Dominion Power that they will continue to honor the "good neighbor" agreement when and if QRR was approved. This means that if the Corps should release 35,000 cfs (versus 20,000 cfs as has been normal for flood control), Dominion will continue to hold the maximum level at the Gaston Dam to 201.5' msl (even if they have to "spill" water at Roanoke Rapids Dam).
QRR May Status...
I want to bring everyone up to speed on the water levels and what the LGA is doing to help control things. On April 8, 2016 the LGA represented by Bill Heflin and Mozine Lowe, the Lake Gaston Water Safety Council represented by Doug Hughes, and the Lake Gaston Stakeholder's Board represented by Pete Deschenes met with representatives from Dominion Power including Corey Chamberlain, Pam Pekrun, Ricky Elder, Don Bromley and Will Miller.
Our purpose was to review the unusual period of high water experienced at Lake Gaston from Late November 2015 to March 2016, and to get a better understanding of the constraints under which Dominion operates.
Perhaps the most important agreement to come out of the meeting was Dominion's promise to continue to adhere to the "good neighbor agreement" if QRR should come to pass (which seems likely, at this point). Our fear had been that Dominion would be overwhelmed by releases of 35k cfs (or more) and would begin holding water in the vicinity of 203' msl during those flood control events. They do not know exactly how they would manage such flows, but they committed to holding the maximum level of the Lake (as measured at the Dam) at 201.5' msl. We also asked Dominion to hold the high water levels to 201' msl. While they could not commit to this, Dominion did agree to make efforts to hold this level when practical.
We have also talked with the USACOE (the Corps) and they are making a huge concession to appease the 1,000 plus members who sent in e-mails expressing concerns over the possibility of QRR being implemented. They have sent up a draft proposal which states that they will not declare flood control unless they are releasing 20,000 cfs or more if QRR comes to pass. This is huge for us because it would decrease the time spent in flood control by about half. Remember that Dominion can only go over 201’ msl if flood control has been proclaimed.
We are still trying to get a proper study of the other possible effects of QRR on Lake Gaston, but these two agreements (lessening of flood control by the Corps and continuance of the “good neighbor” policy by Dominion) have addressed the two prime concerns which we had raised. Thank you all for your support (particularly those of you who took the time to send your letters and e-mails to the Corps). We would not have gotten these concessions without your participation.
~ Bill Heflin, LGA President