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Low Water Levels Stifle Boating at Pennsylvania Campground

June 27, 2012 by   - () Leave a Comment

Gazing out over the muddy turf which surrounds the docks and boat launch at Gamler’s Campground and Boatyard in Lower Chanceford Township near York, Pa., Brooke McConnell shook her head.

“Who wants to rent dock space when you can’t get out to it?” the manager said. “Who wants to camp when the main attraction isn’t available? It’s warm out, people want to be outside.”

Gamler’s, which has about 160 spaces and borders the Lake Aldred portion of the Susquehanna River, is usually a hot spot for boating, McConnell said, but recently, water levels have been so low that boats can’t be launched. Low water levels made many boats unusable on Memorial Day weekend, usually a busy time for the campground, the York Daily Record reported.

Even when boats get out onto the water, the campground’s gas fill-up station is often inaccessible.

McConnell blames nearby Holtwood and Safe Harbor dams for the issues.

“We are at the mercy of the dams,” she said.

The dams help to maintain the recreational water levels in the Lake Aldred area, but lately, it seems like the water levels are always lower.

“Our customers are frustrated,” McConnell said. “The main reason the majority of people come is because they have a boat or they like to water ski.”

Often, the low water levels are the fault of repairs being made to the dams’ protective flashboards, said John M. Levitski, PPL Electric Utilities’ regional community relations director for the Lancaster area.

“We can only get out there on certain conditions to make repairs,” he said. “We just have to wait to get out there safely.”

The company is working to get “everything back to normal as soon as possible,” Levitski said.

But that’s little comfort to McConnell, who said she’s received dock rental cancellations.

This spring, PPL renovated its Pequea Boat Launch on Lake Aldred and extended it father out onto the river, “to improve the recreational opportunities,” Levitski said. The improvements were “not related to the work on the flashboards,” he said.

McConnell said Gamler’s would also like to extend their ramps and docks to make it easier to reach the water when the levels are low, but it’s a small, family business and cannot afford it.

“We would love to dredge all this up and extend it out but that would cost thousands of dollars,” she said.

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