Boat Ban Under Increasing Scrutiny

April 2006 News

Want to buy a houseboat and place it on Lake Martin, Weiss Lake or Lake Harris in Alabama? Sorry. A bunch of Atlanta builders, some wealthy Alabama landowners and Alabama Power don't want you to. Now it looks like they have the law on their side.

The ban affects any new houseboats on those three lakes beginning July 1, 2007. Existing houseboats can stay. The bill also bans any boats longer than 20 feet, 11 inches that are capable of running more than 60 mph.

The senate bill is actually a watered-down version of a previous bill that would have banned all houseboats from nine lakes. That bill would have forced owners of such boats to remove them.

Luckily for houseboat owners, writes Alababama columnist Mike Bolton, "Someone spotted the bill before it passed the House. It was on greased skids before it was discovered..."

For weeks I've heard from dozens of houseboat owners who were stunned that such a proposal could become law.

Most disappointing to me was Alabama Power's support of the bill. I could understand the support by greedy developers and landowners. They stood to make money.

Unfortunately, Alabama Power stood to benefit that way, too. You'd like to think a utility given the public trust wouldn't sell out Alabamians to benefit another state, but that's exactly what happened.

Let Georgia Power take care of Georgians and the mess they have created on their lakes over there. Alabama Power gains its wealth from the power bills of Alabamians. Alabama Power should be watching our backs.

Somewhere through the years, Alabama Power has lost sight of the fact that the lakes belong to Alabamians and we allow Alabama Power to use them to create hydroelectric power. We receive a great service in return, granted, but that use also allows Alabama Power to make millions of dollars - money many of us believe it spends carelessly.

Why does Alabama Power need billboards and TV commercials to promote its services when its services are the only option we have? Why not knock off all the event sponsorships and cancel the cute commercials and knock a little off the power bill?

And, oh yeah, Alabama Power, stay down by the dams and leave the rest of our lakes alone.

Source: Ap Wire, The Birmingham News

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