Dock owner expresses concern over no-wake zone

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GRAVOIS MILLS - Dock owners expressed concerns Friday as Lake of the Ozarks water levels continued to rise above flood stage. 

A Lake of the Ozarks property owner said the high water level of the lake is "unprecedented."

"Yesterday, all of the sudden, the water rose and came over the seawall, now the landscape lights are underwater," said Chet Pleban.

Gov. Jay Nixon declared the entire lake a no-wake zone at the Lake of the Ozarks for the first time since the flood of 1993. The Missouri State Highway Patrol also urged dock owners to cut off the electric supply to their docks while the water levels are high. 

"We're grateful to the governor for taking the action that he did in issuing the executive order, to make this a no-wake lake, at least during the period of time the lake is above flood level," he said.

Nixon said the no-wake zone will require boaters to travel at idle speeds on the lake to prevent wakes from damaging docks or injuring people. He said it's important for people to follow these safety precautions during the busy holiday weekend. Pleban agreed with the governor's decision. 

"I think that's another reason that the governor issued the executive order that he did, because it becomes very very dangerous," Pleban said.

Ameren also is urging people on the lake to turn off any power running to their docks due to the high water. Pleban said he holds no ill-will toward Ameren, as others have expressed, for not opening the floodgates sooner to avoid the high water level.

"Hindsight is 20-20," he said. "We who live on the water here, and are subjected to some property damage now would certainly take that position. But from an engineering perspective, I can't say that they were negligent in any respect."

Pleban said the situation was "a mess," but won't let it ruin his Independence Day.

"We'll get through it, we'll all get through it," he said. "Maybe we'll all learn some lessons."

Gov. Nixon said he hopes the water levels will go down enough to lift the no-wake restriction by Saturday.