LAKE POWELL, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – A small area on land was closed in Kane Creek Canyon of Padre Bay at Lake Powell on Wednesday. It was deemed unsafe for recreational activities due to potential exposure to human feces.
Witnesses reported that a houseboat with more than 20 occupants did not comply with laws and regulations about the proper disposal of human waste. Park service officials say cleanup of the area will be a significant challenge and the health hazard may persist for weeks or months. The incident is under investigation.
All visitors to Lake Powell are advised that every party camping within one-quarter mile of the lakeshore must have a portable toilet system that does not use plastic bags to contain the waste. (When the device is dumped at a portable toilet dump system, the plastic bag can clog the system.)
This has been a requirement at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area for many years. The park has found that most visitors find traveling to and from the floating restrooms, especially after dark, inconvenient and dangerous. The lake level at Lake Powell fluctuates 20-50 feet a year. A beach that was out of the water and good for camping may be under water later. Any waste that was buried will be released by wave action and mingle with the water, making it potentially unsafe.
More information from the National Park Service:
With eight floating restrooms/dump stations, and six areas within Lake Powell’s marinas, you are never too far from a place to empty your portable toilet. Additionally, the Stateline Boat Pumpout renovation has been completed and will be open to the public Friday, June 30, 2017 at 12 noon. The boat pumpout has been equipped with (4) Peristaltic pumps to pump out boats. These are the same types of pumps that are now in use at Wahweap, Bullfrog, Halls Crossing, and Dangling Rope.The only exception is if visitors are using one of the new polymer-based waste bag containment systems. These are marketed under a variety of names, including ReStop and WagBag. The chemicals used in these systems immobilize liquids and begins breaking down the waste with enzymes. The plastic bag can then be properly disposed of at any dumpster.
According to Superintendent William Shott, “Lake Powell is one of the cleanest reservoirs in the United States. We need everyone’s efforts to help us keep it that way.”
Under the Powell Watch Program, if you see something, say something. Text reports of violations or concerns to 928-614-0820.