Only 40 docks on Lake Tuscaloosa have permit for electricity

Stoney Sharp reports.

Chris Watkins makes a living on the water. His company is building docks on Lake Tuscaloosa.

"We're building two boat houses on the north end of the lake and another dock is going in on this side of the lake," said Watkins, owner of DockWorx Marine Construction.

The job has gained extra attention lately. Customers are anxious after two women died from electrocution on the lake two months ago.

"They have a lot of concerns about electric shock drowning. They're afraid to get in the water," Watkins explained. "It has nothing to do with the dock. It has everything to do with electricity in the water."

Tuscaloosa city leaders want more oversight on docks and piers. According to the city, there are 1,200 permitted boat docks on Lake Tuscaloosa. Only 40 of those have city permits for electricity.

If city leaders have their way, permit enforcement will be enhanced. Annual inspections will be required by certified electrical contractors. Warning signs will also be posted near docks with electricity.

"Electrical shock..that is one concern we have and want to get the message out and public service announcements out that you'll be seeing in the coming weeks," said Tuscaloosa's Director of Infrastructure and Public Services Jarrod Milligan.

Chris Watkins supports the extra oversight. He has seen several older docks he considers safety hazards.

"..that's falling apart or has electrical in the water," the DockWorx owner said.

The city will now seek input from dock owners. A final recommendation will be presented to a committee in July.