Property owners around Hope Mills Lake need to prepare for the chance to do any needed work on their docks and piers as town staff will be lowering the level of the lake starting Jan. 6.
Last year’s lowering of the lake had to be delayed to coincide with planned work on the bulkhead on the public side of the lake.
Don Sisko, head of the Hope Mills public works department, said the decision to wait was made to avoid having to lower lake levels twice.
Reducing the level of the lake makes it easier for the property owners to get to their docks and piers during the two weeks the town plans to leave the water at a reduced level.
But the water level isn’t just being decreased for the benefit of the property owners.
Sisko said the town’s Lake Advisory Committee suggested dropping the lake levels in January to help stunt the growth of algae on rocks and other locations near the shoreline.
“When we lower it in January, it exposes the marine algae that grows on the rocks near the edge,’’ Sisko said. “It gives it the opportunity to dry up, and the cold weather will kill it as well.’’
Timing the process for January also has another benefit as it’s done when the lake sees limited recreational use.
Sisko estimates that if there is no rain, once the process of lowering the lake levels begins on Monday, Jan. 6, it will take about two or three days to get the water down to the desired level.
The goal is to drop the level about two or three feet, Sisko said. “My goal is not to lower it anymore than a foot a day,’’ he said.
The process has to be regularly-monitored, Sisko said, because lowering the lake level is not an exact science.
To be as accurate as possible, Sisko has developed charts dealing with amounts of precipitation, past lake levels and other factors.
There’s one factor that Sisko said can’t be accurately measured. “It’s just like any other maritime project,’’ he said. “We all have to be mindful of the weather. That is one thing we can’t control.’’
While the property owners can work on their piers and docks, Sisko said town staff will take advantage of the lowered lake levels to do some routine checks on the status of the dam.
He said the town does regular maintenance on the dam and spillway structure year-round.
But the lowered lake level makes it easier to check out special drains called tide flex drains.
“They drain around the structure so we don’t have ponding water anywhere around the spillway or subterranean water around the spillway,’’ Sisko said.
The lowered lake level lets town staff access the drains easier so they can be cleaned to maintain maximum operating efficiency.
While he’s not concerned there are any specific issues being hidden by the normal lake level, Sisko said town staff will use the opportunity to make a routine check around the lake to see if anything is out or order and requires attention.
“I don’t anticipate any problems,’’ Sisko said. “It’s just going to be an opportunity to see more of the dam structure.’’
Sisko and his staff don’t use a boat to check things out. They walk downstream in the creek and along the dam surfaces as well.
As far as the issues the lakefront owners have with their property in the water, Sisko said it is their responsibility to handle all those repairs as they see fit. He said property owners are welcome to reach out to the town manager if they see something they feel needs the attention of town staff.
“We’ll take care of what we need to take care of,’’ Sisko said.
If everything goes according to plan and there are no major disruptions from the weather, Sisko estimates the lake level will begin to be returned to normal around Monday, Jan. 20.
If any property owners have questions about the lowering of the lake, they can contact Sisko’s office at 910-429-3384 during normal business hours Monday through Friday.