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Idlewild Lake drawdown a gradual process

City officials are monitoring the effect on aquatic life as the water level will be brought down a metre by mid-summer
The drawdown at Idlewild Lake is underway.

Trevor Crawley

The drawdown at Idlewild Lake officially began last week, but don't expect any dramatic drop in the water level, according to city officials.

The work will be done in two phases; the first phase will be a very gradual process to allow staff to monitor any effects to the aquatic life.

The second phase will bring the water level down roughly a metre by late July and into August.

"At this stage though, we're just drawing the lake down like we would normally do before spring freshet," said Eric Sharpe, the director of engineering and development services for the city.

"What we do is we drop the reservoir level down in anticipation of a pretty good gush of water coming down Joseph Creek during snow melt or seasonal rains. The intent this year is to keep it down a bit, potential maybe up to a metre, and leave it at that level until later in the year to do the biology-type work."

There aren't any plans for any immediate action as the city is still in the process of following protocols and applying for necessary permits from a number of provincial government ministries.

“Right now we’re just in the investigative stages, looking for what we’re up against, quite honestly,” Sharpe added. “Obviously, we know there’s turtles and fish and that sort of thing, and those are things that we’re well aware of and working towards getting something in place.

“As we speak right now, we do not have that in place. We’re working with the various higher-level government agencies to find out what they require that we do.”

Snow fencing has been erected on the south side of the lake and will remain in place until the water has been drained.

The decision to draw down the water at Idlewild Lake was an in-camera decision made by city council upon the review of an engineering report on the safety and structural integrity of the dam.

Though the city is drawing down the lake for safety reasons, the intent will be to restore and enhance the lake and park along with the dam and spillway. The city plans to hold public consultations at a later date with residents and park users to identify those enhancements.