The Heritage Lake Conservation Committee has made a recommendation to the Board of Directors to draw the level of Heritage Lake down over several months this winter. Specifically, the plan calls for lowering the level of the lake approximately 5’ from its current level. The committee has recommended that this “drawdown” begin on November 8th, 2014 and end no later than March 1st, 2015, depending on conditions.
Although winter drawdowns have been done on Heritage Lake in the past, this will be the first time we have lowered the level of the lake in several years. This notice provides basic information on how it works and how you might be affected, as well as how you can obtain additional information.
The drawdown is done by opening a valve in the lake drainage system, which allows lake water to run out through an existing “drawdown” pipe under the dam. Once the valve is opened, the level of the lake will gradually lower over several weeks. After closing the valve, the lake will refill naturally with precipitation and rainwater runoff as it typically does each spring.
• Exposing shallow lake bed areas to drying and freezing during winter months can reduce nuisance weeds and plants that grow in those shallow areas. The results of this winter’s drawdown will be evaluated as a potential cost-effective way to eliminate Eurasian Water Milfoil – an invasive plant that we currently can only try to manage with chemicals in the summer months.
• Shoreline erosion can be reduced by limiting the effects of high water and flooding following typical spring rains. If lake levels are lower during spring snowmelt and rain, the lake may capture these flows without the shoreline damage that occurs when the lake is kept full. An inspection of the Heritage Lake dam by an outside engineering firm in 2013 found this high-water erosion problem on the dam itself.
• The Illinois Department of Natural Resources confirms that drawdowns may be an effective way to improve our game fish population, by temporarily forcing small “feeder” fish into deeper water during the drawdown.
• Lowered water levels this winter provide an opportunity for Heritage Lake members to repair and improve docks, shoreline, and other structures, within the rules and regulations set forth by the Association.
• Heritage Lake Association will evaluate the results of this year’s drawdown for planning future projects such as beach area clean-up and improvements, repairs to the concrete boat ramp, and eventual dredging/removal of lake sediments.
• Floating docks and boats that are within shallow lake areas may be left on dry land over the winter months. There is no way to estimate how long it will take the lake to refill, although historically, early spring rains provide sufficient water for the lake to refill without issue.
• If problems occur with the drawdown valve, larger repairs may be necessary. The Conservation Committee has budgeted for this contingency.
• There is no guarantee that the drawdown this winter will result in less weed growth in the lake during summer months. The Conservation Committee has a plan for continuing to treat lake weeds with chemicals if necessary, but wants to evaluate alternatives.
Two information sharing sessions are planned where Conservation Committee members will be available for discussion with you on the drawdown plan. If you would like additional details , these sessions will take place on:
1) Sunday, Sept. 28th from 12pm- 2pm at the Lodge (at the Volunteer Appreciation Day)
2) Saturday, October 11th from 10am to 12pm at the Lodge
Lastly, you are invited to provide your feedback on this issue to the Heritage Lake Board of Directors and/or Conservation Committee members. You can mail or email those comments to the association office or attend the next board meeting where the drawdown will be on the agenda for discussion – that meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. at the Lodge.