Dam leak threatening local wildlife - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dam leak threatening local wildlife

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May 7, 2008

Thomas County--The two private lakes in the Lake Riverside neighborhood are usually enjoyed by everyone who lives here.  Whether its boating, fishing, or other outdoor activities.   "On the weekend you'll always find 2 or 3 cars here they'll be fishing or having a picnic," said resident John Johnson.  Not to mention the diverse wildlife that call it home.  "Its a wonderful natural habitat for geese and ducks," he added.

But lately they've seen changes in the smaller lake.  "One of the other residents came to my house and asked us if I thought we were losing water faster than we should," said Johnson.  Two weeks ago the lake was at its normal water lever.  But on Monday residents began marking the water level as it continued to go down.  "I just stuck a stick at the water line. And that was Monday at noon. And its gone down 4 or 5 inches each day," said River Lake Land Owners Association President, Vance Shuman.  Its dropped several feet in just a week and a half.

From observing it, they determined what was happening.  "The water was bubbling up over into the big lake. And from where it was happening it was a straight line to the old abandoned overflow pipe," Shuman explained.  A contractor confirmed it. The dam is leaking.

The next step: how do they fix it?  "We're going to have to dig out the dam, probably 2 or 3 feet wide down to that pipe and remove it," said Shuman.  

"Which means we'll lose all the water, we'll have a pretty substantial fish kill," added Johnson. They estimate the project will cost around $4,000.  Paid for by the limited budget of the landowners association. 

And even after its fixed, the small lake will be left a giant mud hole.  "We don't really have a way to refill it. We're counting on rain," Shuman said.

"We're going to suffer I guess through the summer. Hopefully we'll have some rain this summer, and not be a dry summer," agreed Johnson.  Hope for rain, and hope the ordeal won't threaten local wildlife, are all lake lovers say they can hold onto for now. Homeowners say they hope the state government will aid them in restocking the lake once it's back to normal.

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