Dock owners on the Highland Lakes have until Feb. 18, 2014, to eliminate exposed foam from their residential docks. After that date, all foam flotation on docks must be encased to prevent it from breaking apart.
LCRA adopted the requirement as part of its Residential Boat Dock Safety Standards in 2004 to help prevent dock debris from littering the lake after floods or heavy rains. Dock owners were given 10 years to encase the exposed foam, which typically has a 10-year average useful life.
“Following every flood, the lakes are scattered with chunks of foam that come to rest along the shorelines and in the coves, and some of the large pieces can even constitute boating hazards,” said Jim Richardson, manager of LCRA’s Water Surface Management. “Poorly constructed docks are a risk to the environment and to the public. They can also result in a costly cleanup for the owner of the property where the dock pieces come to rest.”
A 2011 survey found about 700 docks with exposed foam flotation on the Highland Lakes, primarily on lakes Buchanan and Travis. LCRA is working to inform dock owners of the upcoming requirement and has posted notices on docks that still contain exposed foam.
“This is a friendly reminder that all residential dock flotation has to be encased a year from now, and there are a couple of reasons not to postpone taking care of this,” Richardson said. “Dock builders may have a backlog if everyone waits until the deadline to contract for the work, and flotation is generally cheaper to encase on the shore than in the water, so if the drought has left your dock on dry land, it will likely cost less to bring it into compliance.”
A copy of the Residential Boat Dock Safety Standards is available at www.lcra.org/water/recreation-and-safety/pages/boat-dock-standards.aspx or by calling 1-800-776-5272, Ext. 2309.