Within the next few weeks, Peachtree City residents should have a better idea of when their most prominent lake will hold water once again.
For months, Lake Peachtree has resembled more of a mud puddle than the jewel in the city’s crown of amenities. The lake had been lowered to allow for routine maintenance, by homeowners on the lake and by city and county staffs. However, just before the lake was to be refilled, authorities noticed that one of the dam spillways had been damaged and would require repair before the lake water could be raised again.
At the city’s May 1 council meeting, city manager Jim Pennington told council members that an assessment of the spillway was completed and that a representative from the Georgia Safe Dams program had also reviewed the spillway. Repairs have to wait until the state approves the proposal or notifies staff that an alternative method would be necessary.
Pennington reminded council members that the dam repairs are under the purview of not only the state entity but also the Fayette County water system.
City engineering staff has developed a plan that includes the temporary repair (via a process called pressure grouting) that will allow the lake to be refilled, with the long-term goal of designing replacement spillway, but they cannot begin any work until the report comes back.
Part of the concern on the repair schedule is the fact that one of the city’s biggest events, the Dragon Boat race scheduled for September 27, has become an issue. Initially, the city thought the Dragon Boat race could be shifted to Lake McIntosh if necessary. However, Pennington has now said that Lake
McIntosh can’t hold the capacity needed for the event. The Peachtree International/SuperSprint Triathlon scheduled for May 17 received permission from the state to hold their event at Lake McIntosh.
The council was also waiting to hear from the county about when -and what- repairs are necessary.
Also on the list will be the problem of the dredging of the lake.
Every 10 years the Fayette County Water System is obligated to dredge the silt out of Lake Peachtree, which the county uses as an additional water source. The last dredging, done in 2003, revealed some 3,200 cubic yards of sediment was removed. This recent survey showed there was more than twice that amount, 65,000 cubic yards- or approximately four acres of silt, 10 feet deep.
At that time, the silt was removed using barges to pump out the silt onto Drake Field to dry, then loaded onto trucks to be disposed of off site. The process took three or four months. This time, the process would take twice that long and the optimum time would be during the summer months.
There are three ways to deal with the result of the dredging. The other two include pumping the silt to create a new island on the north end of the lake near th Battery Way boat dock, which would give residents another place to view the annual fireworks display or onto the existing island that had been created in the 1980s when the lake was original dredged out.
Another option is to pump the silt directly into trucks to haul it away without dewatering the product, but it is a more expensive and messier proposition.
The lake is only allowed to be accessed for water volume when there is a shortage - or only in an emergency situation.
At the Fayette County commission’s retreat early in the year, new water system director Lee Pope addressed the possible ways the county could proceed with the dredging process.
The county employed a drone flyover to identify the exposed dry lake bed for the simple identification of sediment pockets that need to be moved. The data is to be used by the water system, in conjunction with Peachtree City, to develop a reasonable plan to identify the areas and approximate cubic yards of sediment to be removed.
At Thursday night’s meeting, county administrator Steve Rapson noted that the county’s engineer, CH2M Hill, has been working with a nationally recognized dam expert to do an analysis of the condition of the spillway and they had already held a preliminary meeting with he EPD and Safe Dams representatives.
“The EPD may be releasing a reclassification that they are considering. If they do, we have a 45-day window.
“We should have an idea of where we’re going in about two or three weeks, but it may be as much as 60 days before we have that finalized. And we’re still moving forward on the dredging project.”