AmerenUE logging docks prior to year-end ban on old foam

Staff reports

If all goes as planned, by the end of August somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000 docks will have been surveyed in anticipation of the year-end ban on non-encapsulated foam.

By using digital photographs, AmerenUE is able to document and pinpoint all docks on the lake that have not been outfitted with encapsulated foam.

The survey is in preparation for the Dec. 31, 2008, deadline when all non-encapsulated foam flotation must be replaced with approved encapsulated floats.

AmerenUE Shoreline Management Supervisor Jeff Green says the project involves taking a digital photo of each dock that still has non-encapsulated foam, documenting the geographic location of the dock, and identifying the parcel of land where the dock is attached.  The dock will then be posted with a reminder to the owner of the Dec. 31 deadline. Green says he expects the lake-wide survey to be completed by the end of August.

“The project is going very well,” Green says. “We are finding 85 to 90 percent compliance in the lower, more-developed areas of the lake. This survey gives us an opportunity to remind dock owners who still need to replace their non-encapsulated foam. The information we gather through this process will also help us with follow-up and enforcement after the deadline occurs.”

Non-encapsulated foam flotation material that has broken away or has been discarded from boat docks is the largest source of man-made debris in the lake. Besides creating an eyesore, large chunks can also be a hazard to boat traffic, Green said.

Under its license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the operation of Bagnell Dam and the Osage Power Plant AmerenUE regulates docks, seawalls and other structures on the shoreline under provisions of its federal license.

The annual spring cleanup was the catalyst of AmerenUE’s ban on the use of non-encapsulated foam that was used for decades as the flotation material of choice on thousands of docks on the lake.

Since its inception, the annual spring cleanup has removed between 120 to 240 tons of dock foam, junk and debris a year from the shoreline. The majority of what is removed is old dock flotation material.

A smaller cleanup is held in the fall with the Adopt-the-Shoreline groups. More than 90 percent of what is hauled off the lake during the shoreline clean ups is dock foam.

In 1997, AmerenUE stepped up the effort to rid the lake of non-encapsulated foam. Although existing docks were grandfathered in, new structures were required to use encapsulated foam.

The ban on the use of white/non-encapsulated foam applied to replaced or new structures.

In 2003, AmerenUE implemented the additional regulations that will completely ban the use of white non-encapsulated foam on Lake of the Ozarks by the end of 2008. Only certain types of fully encapsulated foam will be permitted.

Large chunks of the old floatation can still be found on the lake. It is hard to remove once it becomes waterlogged. When the old flotation starts to deteriorate, its break apart into small beads that wash up along the shoreline and in the back of coves, creating an unsightly mess, shoreline cleanup officials said.

Find out what floats

Dock owners can find more information about flotation requirements at the Lake of the Ozarks Web on the Ameren Web site at

Lake Sun Leader