Below-average water levels at Utah Lake limit search and rescue response options

Posted at 7:01 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-29 21:01:50-04

UTAH LAKE -- A warning to boaters at Utah Lake: Water levels are well below average, and that means search and rescue for the park and Utah County Sheriff’s Office will not be able to bring in your boat.

The teams can only save people and pets, and the rescue boats are too small to pull in vessels with them.

The problem is the lake is less than half-full this year, at 49 percent, and it will drop another foot or two this summer.

Currently, the average depth is about 3 feet. Normally Utah Lake is at least twice that depth during the summer. And, year-round, it’s usually about 10-feet deep.

That means no big boats are allowed on the water.

Utah Lake Park Manager Jason Allen said: “We still have equipment. We have mud buddy boats, and airboats that can get people off their boats, but we no longer have any way to provide boater assists or tow boats back inside the marinas. Normally, if we had at least five feet of water, we could bring in our 24 and 27-foot Boston Whaler boats that are big enough to pull in vessels behind them, and also are fully equipped with medical needs.”

Allen said so far this year there have been 43 rescues on the lake.

Last year by this same time there were only 35. Those numbers tell the park that people are paying less attention, even with the drastic drop in visitors.

Normally, during a high water summer, the lake will see 500 to 800 vessels a weekend. This month, they saw 100-200 each weekend.