0

Lake Varner at lowest level since '07

The banks of the lake seem to have expanded with the recent dry spell. Nord said November rains typically replenish the lake, which is usually at full pool by March of each year.

The banks of the lake seem to have expanded with the recent dry spell. Nord said November rains typically replenish the lake, which is usually at full pool by March of each year.

photo

Staff Photos: Erin Evans Jason Nord, water production manager at Cornish Creek Water Treatment Facility, explains that Lake Varner is at about 10.5 feet below full pool, based on the gauge in the lake.

COVINGTON - Lake Varner, the county's drinking water reservoir, is at its lowest level since 2007.

The lake is at 690.5 feet, about 10.5 feet below full pool.

But the county's drinking water supply is still in very good shape, said Jason Nord, water production manager at the Cornish Creek Water Treatment Facility.

"This happens every year. This is exactly what we would expect," Nord said. "We still have an adequate supply of water. It's just that aesthetically, it doesn't look good."

A small overflow dam called a weir that was damaged during the 2009 flood is being repaired through money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The dam will enable water from the Alcovy River, which is experiencing very low flows, to be pooled so that it can more easily be pumped into Lake Varner and City Pond, the two local drinking water supplies.

Cornish Creek has the capacity to treat up to 25 million gallons per day. Currently the plant is treating between 12 and 13 million gallons per day, about normal for this time of year, Nord said. Typically, rainfall toward the end of November helps replenish the lake and it's at full pool by March, he said.

Meanwhile, City Pond is full, as there are no low flow limits to pumping into that reservoir, since it was built prior to requirements implemented in 1976. City Pond is much more shallow than Lake Varner; the Williams Street treatment plant can only treat up to 4.5 million gallons per day.

Lake Varner was permitted after the low flow requirements went into effect, and water must be flowing at 22 cubic feet per second downstream with pumps running in order to withdraw from the river. Currently, the flow is 27 cubic feet per second with no pumps going. Flows were high enough to recently pump 15 million gallons of water into Lake Varner.

But, "We like to let Mother Nature do it," Nord said of filling the lake. Recent rains have helped, but the banks of the lake have clearly expanded due to the dry weather.

That shouldn't be cause for alarm, Nord said.

"It was designed as a drinking water reservoir, not as a pleasure lake ... We are very much in good shape."

Comments

Sign in to comment