16 March 2013: Ruminations on a Water Level Regime

The rapid rise of the water level of Clary Lake from -54″ below the top of the dam to -38″, a rise of over 16″ in just 3 days from only 3/4″ of rain and a little snow melt perfectly illustrates why Paul Kelley’s plan to “manage” the lake’s water level is both ill-conceived and fatally flawed. Kelley would like to maintain the lake at a low enough level so he can capture any conceivable amount of rain and runoff without it over-topping the dam. He could then release the water at a rate that wouldn’t overload the ability of the mill pond on the west side of the road to handle the discharge. According to Kelley, the mill pond can only pass 55 cubic feet per second of flow from Clary Lake without flooding his building and causing damage to the foundation. Kelley is currently doubly confounded because of the hole in the dam: he’s not just trying to keep the lake from over-topping the dam, he’s trying to keep it from getting within 3 feet of it. The water is already within inches of reaching the hole. He’s playing a very dangerous game.

If Kelley really wants to protect his mill building from high water damage, perhaps he should follow the advice in his own bought-and-paid-for URS engineering report and re-install the original overflow weir in the lower mill pond and not try to manage the outflow from Clary Lake over which he has no real control.

Clearly, if the lake can rise 16″ from what can only be characterized as a very small spring rain storm with a minimal snow pack, how much could it rise from a large spring rain storm when there’s a deep snow pack with saturated ground? We may get a chance to find out sooner rather than later: predictions for this coming Tuesday are for a wet spring snow storm and depending on which model you use could drop 15″ of heavy snow on us (the European model) or 4″-8″ of mixed snow, sleet, and freezing rain (GFS, or Global Forecast System model). The difference between the models is one of temperature; the European model forecasts a colder storm with snow throughout the region whereas the GFS model forecasts a warmer storm with snow inland and more rain and sleet towards the coast.

2 thoughts on “16 March 2013: Ruminations on a Water Level Regime

  1. Margaret Fergusson

    George, as always, thank you for keeping us informed. Your ‘natural’ and acquired expertise on all the matters concerning our much loved lake is beyond impressive; and your steadfast, if not ‘religious’ machinations around measurements, observations, photographs and commentary are absolutely remarkable. I know I speak for everyone who cares about this lake…about the environment…about our way of life here on the lake, when I say a most sincere thank you. The community is most fortunate to have you as a partner, and so am I!! Stuart ‘is’ quite impressed too!

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