Lake’s plug is pulled
Slowly, the 1.007 billion-plus gallons of water that once were Douglas County State Fishing Lake have been draining.
Once that is completed, construction will begin to fix the dam and other repairs and improvements will be made at the lake just northeast of Baldwin City. That's expected to be about Dec. 9, according to Russell LaForce, Engineer for Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
"The repairs will consist of installing a water level control structure, replacing the drain valve, slip lining the upstream drain line, new fencing, an outlet culvert extension and downstream slope improvements," said LaForce. "The lake is being completely drained and should be empty by sometime in December. The area around the dam and spillway will be closed to the public during construction. The remainder of the area will be open for public use; however, the public is advised to use caution while using the area and to avoid all construction activity."
The project has been in the plans for years, but funding was finally approved this year. The dam repairs and lake renovation will cost just under $500,000, which is part of the department's $8 million state-wide effort to upgrade lakes.
Douglas County State Fishing Lake was designed in 1961 and built over the next two years. The current project will modernize the lake, said LaForce.
"The repairs are needed to bring the dam up to the current safety standards and to replace items that are wearing out," he said. "The department has acquired the necessary permits and had studies done to have the construction done for a minimum cost. The existing valve takes five people to operate. The drain line is made of corrugated metal, which is 15 years beyond its design life. A rock drain and a retaining wall will be added to the downstream slope of the dam to increase the stability of the embankment beyond the minimum standards."
If all goes according to plan, the lake could reopen next fall with new fish and an easier way to control the lake level, he said.
"The water level control structure will allow the department to raise and lower the water level to improve the fishing in the lake without having to frequently open and close the drain valve to maintain a constant lake level," said LaForce. "When the lake is drained, the fishery will be also extensively renovated. The lake will be restocked before the fall of 2006 with largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, redear sunfish and black crappie to establish a high quality fishery. The department will announce when the lake will be reopened for fishing after construction."
A date for fish salvage will also be announced by the department as soon as possible. Anyone participating in the fish salvage will need a Kansas fishing license.Douglas State Fishing Lake is a 180-acre lake surrounded by 538 acres of land. Douglas State Fishing Lake is located one mile north and three miles east of Baldwin City. The area manager is Chris Lecuyer. The area fisheries biologist is Richard Sanders.