Officials ban boating at Sumner Lake

Thomas Garcia

A drop in the water levels at Sumner Lake has prompted state park officials to close its boat ramps and prohibit boating.

“Water levels are less than we hoped for this season; we want to make sure that we safeguard boaters from potential hazards and unpredictable lake conditions,” said David Sanchez, park superintendent. “Fortunately, a salvage order is in effect through November first, fishing is good, and anglers have been successful from the shoreline.”

The concern is that a lower water level prevents park staff from launching a patrol boat in the event of an emergency, said State Parks Deputy Director Jerome Madrid.

“The (patrol) boats are too large to be launched from the shore; it would require a boat ramp,” Madrid said. “Once the water levels rise and conditions are safe the boat ramp will be reopened to motorboats.”

Madrid said the drop has created additional hazards that did not previously exist. He said once-submerged objects are now closer to or above the water’s surface.

Madrid said Sumner Lake’s drop is the combination of the drought and the use of lake water for irrigation.

“The lake is on the Pecos River, which is a part of the Pecos River Compact,” Madrid said. “The water from that lake is released for irrigation purposes.”

Madrid said he did not remember the last time, if ever, that Sumner Lake was closed to boating due to low water levels.

“In the past 12 years this has not happened,” Madrid said. “Beyond that I am not sure if it has or has not occurred at that lake.”

Madrid said several state park lakes have been effected by the drought conditions. He said Conchas, Santa Rosa and Brantley Lakes are also experiencing low water levels. Clayton and Storrie Lakes have been closed for several months to motorized boating due to low water levels and safety concerns.

“Our hope is that we get some moisture to help restore lake levels,” said Tommy Mutz, state parks division director. “We want boaters to enjoy their lakes and be safe while having fun.”