MWD Prepares for EL Nino Season

Stranded Dock off of Gibralter Road
Many private docks around Big Bear Lake are either stranded or nearly stranded because of the falling lake level.  The Municipal Water District encourages dock owners to secure their docks for the Winter in case of a significant El Nino event.

The drought over the last several years has definitely impacted Big Bear Lake…let’s hope the lake fills up this Winter!  Article written by Kathie Portie of the Big Bear Grizzly.

The lake rose 12 feet during the last El Niño event in 2005. Ten years later, employees of the Big Bear Municipal Water District are still finding pieces of runaway docks.

Because of the drought prior to El Niño’s arrival, many of the docks were sitting on dry land before the winter. Winter storms caused several docks to float away, many of them crashing against the shoreline and breaking into pieces.

“We had 96 tons of unidentifiable dock chunks (picked up) after the winter,” MWD General Manager Mike Stephenson said. “People were saying ‘where are our docks.’ They were blowing to the east and breaking up. People lost their stuff.”

This time around, with predictions of a strong El Niño in the air, the MWD is being more proactive, Stephenson said. “You can definitely expect at least an average fill, which is about 2 feet,” he said.

The MWD encourages dock owners to take necessary steps to secure their docks prior to the upcoming winter season. The owners of licensed docks can store their docks in a variety of ways—move the dock out of the water and above the high water line on property owned by the licensee, or store the dock with any commercial marina authorized by the MWD to store docks.

Another option is to securely anchor the dock offshore in the vicinity of the licensed property no more than 100 feet from the water line or within the center line of a bay or cove. The dock cannot interfere with adjacent properties or navigation channels.

Stephenson said one of the simplest ways to protect the dock is to keep the dock poles from sliding out of the sleeve brackets. This way, he said, the poles stay with the dock if it drifts away. “The poles will hit the ground and keep the dock from hitting the shoreline and breaking up,” Stephenson said. “That’s where the value is. Last time, the docks slid off the poles and then broke up when they hit the shore. We’re still running around pulling up dock poles from the last time.”

Ways to secure the poles to the dock include using a straight bolt, a U clamp or a bolted collar.

During the TroutfesT weekend, Stephenson said a Lake Patrol boat found one such pole, which caused quite a bit of damage to the boat’s propeller.

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