Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson is concerned about the falling level of Center Hill Lake, due to the drought, and how that could affect the city's water supply.
During Monday night's council meeting, Hendrixson told the aldermen that if the lake level continues to fall, the city may need to purchase and install a portable pump to help support the water supply intake at the lake. "As you know, we are in an extreme drought. We've had very little rain in the last year. Center Hill Dam is leaking. They're (Corps of Engineers) going to spend $240-million dollars to repair the dam and one of the hillsides before you get to the dam, that the water is going through. They're pulling the lake down drastically. They've been operating what they call the sluice gates under the dam, 24 hours a day. They have now stopped that (24 hours) and are now doing it seven hours a day. There is no water going into Center Hill Lake from any run off anywhere because there is no rain."
"I went to a meeting two weeks ago. The Corps of Engineers was fairly confident that they weren't going to pull the lake any lower than a 623 level elevation above sea level, and we're fine at that level. I went to another meeting Friday at the dam, and they are now saying there's a great possibility of pulling it to 618 and that is the absolute lowest we can pump water. The pumps that run 2,900 gallons a minute create a swirl and at 618 they're probably going to get air which will cavitate the pumps, or stop them from working until they can get the air out of them."
"We certainly hope it doesn't get to that point, but if it does, we will have to take immediate action before it gets there, or the City of Smithville and 90% of the households in DeKalb County will be without water."
Mayor Hendrixson says he will check with the city's engineers to see if any grants are available to help fund a portable pump. The council took no action Monday night.