[dropcap]Sometime[/dropcap] late on Christmas day the lake level, which has been gradually rising for the past few weeks, finally rose above -24″ below the top of the dam. This marks the first time since the Clary Lake Water Level Order was issued in late January of 2014 that the lake level has actually been at or near where it is should be for a particular time of year. Yes, it has been higher a few times in the past few years, and in fact it came within 12″ of the top of the dam last spring, but at that time it was still a foot short of where it should have been at ice out. And while it’s nice to see the lake more or less where it should be going into winter (at or near 2 feet below the top of the dam), we could really have used the water this past summer when the lake sat for months at historic lows, to everyone’s dismay.
How long these current higher water levels will continue is unclear. Mr. Kelley has neither repaired the hole in the dam (located approximately -34″ below the top of the dam) nor made any attempt to staunch the flow of water through it. Left unchecked, water flowing through the hole will gradually enlarge it, possibly affecting the structural integrity of the dam and allowing more water to escape. Even a pillow stuffed in the hole would go a long way towards mitigating the damage to the dam that is undoubtedly taking place by allowing water to course through the hole unabated. While a catastrophic failure is not going to happen, it just makes sense to try and preserve as much of the structural integrity of the dam as possible, until a satisfactory repair can be made.
The Clary Lake Water Level Charts are updated (almost) daily. The water level chart above shows the lake level the day after Christmas when the lake was a little over -23″ below the top of the dam. This morning the level is up to -22.3″ and rising as the result of more overnight rain. Mr. Kelley deserves some credit for closing the gate and allowing the lake level to rise though it is likely he has only taken this action in response to the Notice of Violation issued last October and the threat of pending enforcement action by the Department. Sadly, he has done nothing towards satisfying any of the Special Conditions in the Water Level Order so I don’t believe his simply allowing the lake level to rise without doing anything else to comply with the WLO will do much to impress the DEP. We are nonetheless, grateful.