By Valerie Baldowski
The Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority is preparing for a steady stream of visitors to its drinking-water reservoirs this July.
Between 1,600 and 2,000 are expected to make a stop at the Tussahaw and Gardner reservoirs this month, because of the hot weather, said Gary Mayo, the authority's deputy director.
Mayo estimates that at least 200 people will visit the reservoirs on Sunday.
"Since the regular fishing season opened for the Tussahaw and Gardner reservoirs during the first weekend in March this year, managers at Henry County Water have seen an increase in traffic by local residents seeking the convenience of fishing, boating and light recreation, so close to home," said Chris Wood, a spokesman for the water authority.
Wood said the two lakes had approximately 1,800 visitors in March, almost 3,000 in April, and more than 2,000 in May.
Fishermen in Henry County also have another choice of where to cast their lines this season, Wood said.
"The 2010 Henry County ... fishing season is enhanced by the opening of Tussahaw Island, the new community-use area on the Tussahaw Reservoir that includes plentiful parking, a walking trail, a fishing pier, and a boat ramp for citizens with disabilities," he said.
The facility opened in May, and is popular with the public, added Mayo. The opportunity to be on the water in an outdoor setting is a big draw, he continued.
"Getting away from the rat race, and being in the natural area we have, [is appealing,]" Mayo said. "The No. 1 thing for everybody, whether you're a competitive fisherman, or just fishing from the banks, is getting out and enjoying nature."
Mayo said the Tussahaw Reservoir is accessible through two boat ramps, one off of Peeksville Road, and the other at Tussahaw Island, located on Collins Way. It is not accessible via the Tussahaw Water Treatment facility, he said.
In addition to the fishing offered at the Tussahaw Reservoir, anglers can also cast their lines at the Gardner Reservoir this season, Mayo said. The Gardner Reservoir is accessible through the boat ramp off of Indian Creek Road.
Both reservoirs are open on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, including July 4, from 7 a.m., to 7 p.m. The regular fishing season in Henry County lasts through the end of November.
Reservoir Use permits are available only to Henry County residents and property owners. Permit holders may bring one guest with them, free of charge.
Only boats with trolling or electric motors are allowed on the water authority's reservoirs. Gas-powered boats are prohibited, due to stricter regulations for public use of state bodies of water also serving as drinking-lakes reservoirs, according to water authority officials.