“Water we thinking?”
Water seems to be the one thing recreational athletes love to forget. When we work out, we either choose to replace water with sugary sports drinks or forego hydration altogether. After workouts we often opt for alcoholic drinks or caffeinated ones, both of which act as diuretics, causing even more water loss.
Even when we choose how to spend a languid spring afternoon, water is perhaps reflected in the two best kept secrets in area recreation: OWASA’s University Lake and Cane Creek Reservoir, which are both now open for the season.
“University Lake is open Saturdays and Sundays this year,” Senior Assistant Lake Warden Bob Glosson said. “And Cane Creek is open Fridays and Saturdays.”
Recreational options thus far this spring may have been limited to indoor exploits, but Glosson hopes warmer weather will bring out the crowds for boating, fishing, picnicking, sunbathing and other recreation alongside the shores of the two lakes, which are both currently near 100 percent water capacity.
“I’m told that this was the coldest March on record since the 1960’,” he said, adding that it only takes one warm weekend to stir interest in boating and fishing at the lakes.
Located on the west side of Carrboro near Jones Ferry Road, the University Lake recreation area is at the end of University Lake Drive, reached via Old Fayetteville Road south of Jones Ferry Road.
The Cane Creek Reservoir is about eight miles west of Carrboro on the north side of NC 54, just west of Stanford Road.
Both recreation areas are operated by the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA), a public, nonprofit agency providing water, sewer, and reclaimed water services to the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community.
The lakes officially opened for the season March 23 when basic fees were waived in honor of Lightning Brown Day. OWASA designates the opening Saturday of each season in honor of the late Mr. Brown, a community activist and member of the OWASA Board of Directors in the mid-1990s. All boat rental, boat launching and lake fees except those for electric trolling motor rentals were waived.
The days of operation for the Cane Creek Reservoir (Fridays and Saturdays) and University Lake (Saturdays and Sundays) marks a change relative to previous years. Currently, due to the recent conversion to Daylight Savings Time, there’s not enough light to safely allow boating before about 7 a.m. However, during most of OWASA’s lake season, the recreation hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on days when the lakes are open.
The lakes will be open for the Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day holidays. The last day of the 2013 lake recreation season will be Sunday, Nov. 10.
The biggest change taking place at the lakes isn’t a change of season or operational hours, however.
“The biggest change is a changing of the guard,” Glosson said. “My supervisor Eric Barnhardt is retiring, as well as another of the assistant wardens. Johnny Riley will be starting (in that position) in a couple of weeks. I don’t believe there’ve been any policy changes; we try to remain as consistent as possible through the seasons.”
As such, regulations and rates have remained the same this year.
OWASA offers canoes and flat-bottomed boats for rent. Visitors may use small private boats if they bring them on a car or in a truck (trailers are not allowed).
The limits on private boats are intended to help prevent aquatic weeds, which cause problems for fish and water treatment. For this reason, boats have to be cleaned of mud and vegetation and inspected by OWASA. To help protect water quality, OWASA allows only electric motors, which are also inspected.
Boating safety remains paramount at both locations. OWASA’s lakes are alcohol-free. Life jackets are required, and they are generally available for adults and children, and OWASA does not charge for their use. Some people may need to use their own life jackets due to unusual size or other special conditions.
“Citizens with disabilities receive assistance from OWASA staff as needed to enjoy boating and using the lake recreation area,” an OWASA release says. “University Lake has a fishing pier for people with disabilities.”
For OWASA customers and Orange County residents, half-day lake use rates are $4.50 for ages 12-64 and $2 for children and seniors. Boat rentals are an additional $4.50. Private boat launching is $3.50 plus the lake use fee, and electric trolling motor half-day rentals are available for $15. Season passes are available for OWASA customers and Orange County residents.
For non-Orange County residents, lake use fees are $5.50 per half-day for ages 12-64 and $2.50 for children and seniors. Boat rentals are an additional $8, and private boat launching is $7 plus the lake use fee. Electric motor rentals are $22 per half-day.
For more information, customers can contact the Lakes Warden’s office at 919-942-5790 or Senior Assistant Lake Warden Bob Glosson at 919-942-8007, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the recreation link on the OWASA website ( owasa.org). Customers can also call OWASA at 919-968-4421.
Or, those interested can simply pay a visit to either lake during operational hours. You can bring a sandwich or a sports drink, but there’s plenty of water to go around.