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Debris builds up on Lake Pleasant, sinking plans for summer boaters

Lake Pleasant is dealing with huge patches of floating debris gathering near marinas and boat launches.

ARIZONA, USA — A boat is like your own floating home: one that moves with the current. But right now, the current isn't taking Glenn Gorichs' boat anywhere.

Because of a floating mass of debris, Lake Pleasant isn't very pleasant right now. Around the boat slips, the docks, and the boats themselves is a drifting combination of sawdust, trees, and sticks.

Gorichs has a 28-foot power boat in a slip at Pleasant Point marina, but he says he can't even use it.

“I came out here and I was like I don't want even start my boat because I was afraid I'd hit debris in the lake in the water," he said. "It's propane tanks. It’s... you name it. If it's been within 20 feet or 30 feet of a creek bed in the trash. It's in here."

Harbormaster Chad Case has spent weeks trying to get rid of it. It's a byproduct of this year's wet winter and the springtime snow-melt flooding that it brought.

"This is all purely storm runoff that's come through one of the creeks or rivers into the lake," Case explained.

And after the flooding of spring carried everything that wasn't nailed down into the lake, the winds and current have brought a lot of it right to the docks.

"We're basically using the same principles we would use for an oil spill, right?" Case continued. "So ideally what we do is we encapsulate it with a boom. And then we need Mother Nature to help us right give us a little bit of breeze to where we can get it over into those areas where we can take it up."

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Many of the boat ramps are staging grounds for construction equipment. Deckhands take to the water to pick debris out by hand. The driftwood is piled up by the roadside, just next to a 40-foot-long tree the crew hauled out.

But the problem plaguing Gorichs is the same problem Case is dealing with.

“Two weeks ago we went through seven boats ourselves just because to get this out your boats are in it,” Case said.

The debris poses a real threat to boaters. Gorichs is worried that the boat he bought, and the slip he pays for, might never even get used this season.

"I think they've been trying to get some things cleaned up," he said. "The lake's been pretty consistent. Been coming here for 15 years -- yeah there's always a little bit of springtime debris that comes down naturally, but this just seemed like over the top."

Case says that they're doing all they can, but there's still a lot of snow up north that has to melt -- and more debris that's going to make its way down to Lake Pleasant.

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