Big Bear Lake, Ca, August 13, 2010, 9:00am – Many questions have been raised over this year’s number of fatal and near drownings. The lake weeds have been blamed for attributing to these accidents but this is speculation. According to Scott Heule, General Manager of the Municipal Water District, the MWD does take precautions in attempting to eradicate the weeds. An aquatic invasive species known as Eurasian Water Milfoil has been treated for the last four years with an herbicide and the MWD has seen very good results with this multi-year effort. In addition, for docks that pay fees on the lake, the MWD can provide navigation routes for water vessels by using both chemicals and a mechanical weed harvester. As Mr. Heule explains, green plants grow on the bottom of the lake and the soil is what it is. Algae, also, grows in the lake attributing to the green water color. But, with three deaths so far this year, residents and visitors are alarmed. It is important to note that in our high altitude environment the body is subject to physical changes that can affect our physical ability. According to local resident and emergency room physician, Dr. Tom Lebby, when in a high altitude environment, people tire more easily because your body is getting less oxygen as a result of there being less oxygen in the air. Many describe it as “thin air”. Additionally, your heart beats faster in elevated altitudes. Residents who live at high altitude have a higher red blood cell count to compensate for this lack of oxygen. As Mr. Heule adds, as a result of the high altitude, visitors have experienced dehydration, dizziness and trouble sleeping. It is important to recognize your limits and take precautions in the altitude as even strong swimmers from lower altitudes and beach communities will notice a difference swimming at almost 7000 feet.
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