Evergreen Lake tops spillway

2006-05-02T00:00:00Z Evergreen Lake tops spillwayScott Richardson srichardson@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com

HUDSON - Mike Steffa, operations supervisor at Comlara Park, listened as rain fell on his roof in north Normal overnight Monday. Steffa dropped his daughter off at daycare on his way to work a few hours later and drove by Six Mile Creek, which feeds the park's Evergreen Lake.

It was then he knew Tuesday would be the long awaited day: The 900-acre reservoir, one of two providing the city of Bloomington, would be full. The lake was down just 5 inches on Monday.

Ever so slowly Tuesday morning, the lake surface edged to the top of the dam before ribbons of water cascaded over and fell to the spillway below.

The water was the first to make that trip since the beginning of the drought a year ago, said Bloomington Water Director Craig Cummings.

The last time Evergreen Lake was full was May 9, 2005. The reservoir reached its lowest point, 5.9 feet down, on March 9.

Lake Bloomington, the city's smaller reservoir that has a larger floodplain than Evergreen, filled April 7.

The 635-acre reservoir was down 11.6 feet on Oct. 19, reaching its lowest point during the yearlong drought.

"You've got to feel really good," said Cummings, who made the trip to Evergreen Lake to see the sight for himself. "We're in great shape."

Last week, the National Weather Service officially removed The Pantagraph area from drought status after April showers drenched the Twin Cities with 6.25 inches of rain. The average for the month is 3.85 inches.

More than an inch of rain has fallen since Monday.

Even if no more rain were to fall in the near future - and more is predicted this week - Cummings expects both reservoirs to remain full well into this month as runoff matches or exceeds the 11 million gallons the city is drawing from Evergreen Lake every day.

Construction that raised dam 5 feet higher at Evergreen Lake following the 1988-89 drought had the effect of adding volume to Evergreen Lake equal to Lake Bloomington.

As a result, the Twin Cities has enough water today to last two years if no rain fell at all, Cummings said.

From a quality standpoint, Cummings said a concern always exists when a drought ends abruptly that fast runoff will cause water quality issues.

However, this drought eased out, and nitrate levels at the pump station remain well below levels allowed by the EPA, he said.

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