LAKE HAVASU CITY – Whether the lake should be closed or left open for recreation during the COVID-19 outbreak is a controversial subject in Lake Havasu City. City Manager Jess Knudson told Lake Havasu City council members Tuesday that the community is passionately divided.
“There have been many, many calls, emails and other communications from our residents. We hear from residents who feel strongly about keeping the lake open,” Knudson said. “We hear from residents who feel strongly that the lake should be shut down. I talk to seniors who are scared for their lives and I talk to those who know the seriousness of the pandemic, including those who want to come to Havasu for the weekend.”
Separate petitions have circulated in the community. One argues that social distancing can allow safe recreation while the other says the waterway should be shut down to prevent possible spread of the virus.
Ultimately, the City has no say in the matter Knudson said.
“The question we receive quite often is who has the authority to close the lake,” Knudson said. “Lake Havasu and the lower Colorado river is a federal waterway and clearly the City does not have that power.”
Knudson said some residents have asked that highway 95 be shut down to keep spring break students and other visitors away from the community.
“The state of Arizona is the entity with the authority to restrict, minimize or remain unchanged the comings and goings of visitors and tourists,” Knudson said. He told council members that coronavirus management has been a whirlwind.
“I never could have imagined the conversations that I’ve had in the last few weeks, asking non-essential businesses to do the right thing and close their doors, asking tourists who want to come to Havasu for the weekend to stay out of Havasu and suspend their travel plans,” Knudson said. “It’s been an out of body experience at times.”
Mohave County Department of Public Health Director Denise Burley video-conferenced into the meeting. She delivered the same type of report and information that she’s been presenting at special Board of Supervisors meetings held three times each week.
“I would just like to say Denise ‘thank you so much’ for all the hard work your department has done,” said council member Donna McCoy. “It makes us feel so much better knowing that we’ve got the numbers coming in and that we know the progress is happening. I know you guys are working really diligently and we all appreciate it so very much.”