Dam break closes Lone Star lakes

Published 10:24 pm Thursday, April 15, 2010

As it turns out, a dam beside Pruden Boulevard wasn’t the only one to have recent problems.

Earlier this month, an earthen barrier separating the Lone Star Lakes from the Chuckatuck Creek failed, causing 170 million gallons of water to drain from three lakes into the creek, according to Suffolk spokesperson .

“It almost made you feel sick to see that much water gone and know all those fish got flushed down the Chuckatuck Creek,” said Greg Bethel, a frequent fisherman at the park near Chuckatuck. “I hate to think of the impact in July, when things start to heat up.”

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Seasonal water levels combined with extra rain from a storm, caused the berm to fail according to George.

The three lakes, which covered 40 acres, 20 acres and 9 acres each, were used as storage basins, but because the water supply is composed of surface water and groundwater supplies, allowing the city flexibility in case of an emergency, “there has been no impact to the city’s ability to provide potable water to our citizens,” George said in an email.

Bethel had been fishing at the lakes on March 31 but when he returned the following Wednesday, he said, the lakes were closed.

“Before, you could tell the lakes were at capacity,” Bethel said. “But then it rained that Friday, and we had a storm. That’s when it got washed out. When I went back the next week, you couldn’t even put your boat in the lake.”

The three lakes that lost water have been closed since April 9.

“The Department of Public Utilities has coordinated with the regulatory agencies, consultants and contractors to implement a plan of action,” George stated. “This plan includes installing a new sheet pile cofferdam with earthen and stone embankments. Upon completion of the repair, a permanent overflow relief will be provided.”

The dam also failed in 1994, George said, in an area adjacent to the current breech.