8/20/2012 - GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
It happens in cartoons all the time, the character dives into a body of water and seemingly begins to drown, only to realize they are standing in waist deep.
Currently Lake Nasworthy poses the condition for this to occur, unfortunately in the real world this could lead to life threatening injuries and environmental problems. That is what led Samuel Spooner, 17th Training Wing Safety chief, to issue a safety warning to Team Goodfellow.
"Historically, Airmen have been paralyzed or killed as a result of jumping or diving into water without knowing the depth," said Spooner. "Therefore, never dive into the lake or any body of water unless the depth is known. The water level at the Goodfellow Rec Camp dock has dropped approximately 40 inches from the start of summer. Damage to boats and boat motors can occur by clipping the bottom of the lake in certain low water areas."
The fast drop of water in Lake Nasworthy is not only a big safety concern but also an economical one. The lake is man-made and was built by West Texas Utilities Company in 1930 to provide water to San Angelo and the local area. It is normally six to eight feet and is now noticeably shallower due to the current drought.
"All we can do is hope for rain," said Anthony Wilson, San Angelo Civic Events manager. "The water level has been lower in the past, and hopefully with the end of hurricane season approaching the community should see some rain."
Without a drastic increase in rainfall, the local area could be entering drought contingency level three by October. This is put into effect when the city has a year's supply of water left, and means no outdoor watering is allowed and possibly increased water cost.
Located at the shores of Lake Nasworthy, the Goodfellow Recreation Camp is heavily impacted by the condition of the lake.
"I'm concerned about losing the lake all together," said Harry Gilbert, Goodfellow Rec Camp director. "We can't let boats into the water without damaging them, the fish won't bite due to low oxygen, and we are not selling bait so income is an issue as well. Another thing I'm really worried about is stagnant water bringing more mosquitoes and algae. If the oxygen level gets low enough golden algae will grow, killing most fish."
Golden algae are naturally occurring microscopic algae that under certain environmental stresses can produce toxins which can kill large amounts of gill-breathing organisms.
With safety and the importance of the lake a big concern for Gilbert he urges everyone to conserve water and if the decision is made to take a boat into water, be extremely cautious.