Clean up debris before the lake refills

By Steve Bell, Lake Watch columnist

Every fall and winter, thousands of lake residents use Lake Murray’s
shoreline to dispose of leaves and other yard debris. Most choose to burn or
bag, but some simply wait for the water to rise (oops) so wind and waves
will wash their “problems” away. Those who do not clean up are in violation of the shoreline plan and may have to answer to SCE&G’s lake management staff. The rule is, yard debris and anything else that is deposited below the 360’ contour must be removed before the water rises, including piles of ashes and any unburned materials. Burning below the 360’ contour is restricted to yard debris only, and construction materials including old docks and styrofoam must be disposed of in compliance with county regulations. The lake cannot be used as a convenient dumping ground for whatever. One resident reported to Lake Watch that a neighbor was depositing cat litter in the lake.

Disposing yard debris in the lake can clog up irrigation intakes. Wind and
waves can wash the debris up on neighbors’ shoreline requiring those
neighbors to eventually clean up the mess. Decaying debris can lower
oxygen levels which can contribute to fish kills. The decaying matter also
provides habitat for leeches. While residents (and the public) have legal use
of the shoreline for recreation, SCE&G is the enforcer of the federally
approved shoreline plan. The plan addresses activities that can harm project resources. For example, any clearing of natural shrubs or trees must be approved by lake management. Placing sand to create a beach front below the 360’ is prohibited and violates State and Federal water quality standards. Excavating below the 360’and withdrawing water from the lake requires a permit from SCE&G.

Violators of the shoreline plan can face stiff penalties. On one occasion
SCE&G revoked a homeowner’s dock permit for clearing button bushes
near the back of a cove in Hawleek Creek. Three years later the dock permit
was reinstated, only after the homeowner replanted the cleared area. In
another incident, SCE&G installed a fence and no trespassing signs at its
property line, in response to a back property owner, who in spite of
warnings, continued to clear trees on SCE&G’s property.

The Shoreline Plan is designed to protect our lake. Lake users and residents
should become familiar with the plan and report violations to lake

Steve Bell is President of Lake Murray Watch. He can be reached at
[email protected]

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