Local News

Water drains from Hope Mills Lake again

Posted November 11, 2008 1:57 p.m. EST
Updated November 11, 2008 6:22 p.m. EST

— Less than three months after Hope Mills Lake refilled behind a new $9.8 million dam, the lake's level dropped dramatically Monday night.

Mayor Eddie Dees said the sudden drop, which exposed weeds and branches along the lake bed, was planned.

The impoundment of the lake in October was only temporary and crews planned to drain it to run more tests on the dam, Dees said. Workers need to repair small leaks in the structure that Dees said are normal for new concrete dams.

The 750-foot-long concrete dam was built to prevent Hope Mills Lake from draining again. Torrential rains on Memorial Day 2003 washed away the former earthen dam at the lake, and the town spent five years trying to finance and then construct the new dam.

The new dam was completed in June, and the lake reached its full, 103-foot level by the end of August. Still, some nearby residents complained that the lake was lower than it had been before the earthen dam burst.

The charitable organization Friends of Hope Mills Lake expressed concern for the thousands of fish they said were stocked in the lake Oct. 29. Town officials could not confirm fish were stocked in the lake.

“Who knows what’s gonna happen to the fish,” Friends of Hope Mills Lake President Jim Williams said.

Keith Ashley, a fisheries biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, said as long as the lake has four to five feet of water fish should be safe. Dees said the lake level will not drop below that level.

It remains unclear when the work will be completed and the lake will be restored to its normal size.