GASTONCOUNTY, N.C. -- The end of the Mountain Island Lake Marine Commission next month has people wondering if they should be concerned about future management of the lake now that one of its biggest advocates is disbanding.

Wednesday, we got a first-hand look at what the commission deals with: It includes the approval and placement of no wake zones and buoys protecting boaters and others enjoying the lake.

A handful of buoys, mostly on the Gaston County side, have already been removed because the commission is disbanding.

Gaston County chose not to fund its portion of the marine commission s budget, which is around $12,000. By law, the commission disbands if one group bows out; the commission includes representatives from Gaston, Lincoln and Mecklenburg Counties.

Tuesday night, Mecklenburg County approved a process to establish no-wake zones on their side of the lake. It includes reviewing applications, but leaving approval up to the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission.

Kirsten Hall lives on the lake and says the recently removed buoys means boats will be going faster in areas where they were previously asked to slow down.

They re probably going to be a little more wild than they need to be, Hall said.

Another one of Hall s concerns is the lake s water quality.

We want to make sure it is as good a quality as it can be, she said.

That is something the marine commission also tackled.

So, too, the Catawba Riverkeeper, which is currently engaged in a fight with Duke Energy, which owns the lake.

Mountain Island Lake is the largest source of drinking water in Charlotte area.

The Catawba Riverkeeper organization claims coal ash runoff put heavy metals in the water and poses threats to fish and humans.

Duke Energy says the lake s water quality exceeds all state standards.

There s a big void left by the marine commission, said Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins.

So much so Perkins says he would rather give back $15,300 his organization recently received in funding from the marine commission for sediment studies just to keep them around.

Perkins says the lake commission s impact is dealing with day-to-day issues, while Duke s focus is on providing hydroelectric power.

That s really one place the marine commission helped fill that and provide a level of safety and coordination on the lake, Perkins said.

Mecklenburg County officials say there is no reason for concern because the lake has plenty of advocates, even with the marine commission disbanding soon.

The lake s water quality is considered excellent and the plan is to keep it that way.

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