Nothing has been easy when it comes to the last couple of years with the Augusta City Lake. An extended drought and the construction of a new dam and spillway have made the lake a constant source of concern for city staff and the governing body.
With the dry conditions continuing after the lake was drained and throughout 2012, weeds and other vegetation have overgrown the exposed lakebed. This would not be a good for the lake when it refills.
In order to avoid excess plant matter in the water that could also create problems with clogs in the intake structure when the city is able to begin using the lake as a water source again, the city experimented with a controlled burning process to clear the grass and brush.
"It didn't go really well with the bigger stuff," City Manager Bill Keefer told the governing body at its meeting Monday. "We are trying to put together a more detailed game plan."
Keefer said staff hopes that a lighter tractor may be able to successfully cut down and remove some of the brush and the safety department could focus on burning off the rest.
According to a press release issues this week, "Over the next 45-60 days or so as weather and time permits, the City will be working on removing areas of vegetation growth within the City Lake. This will include burning off the growth when conditions allow (wind speed and direction) under the guidance and supervision of the Augusta Department of Public Safety."
"It is hoped that the City and surrounding area receives much needed moisture later this winter and next spring in quantities that will provide some relief from the drought and the need to repeat this process in the future," Keefer said in the release.
If there are questions, Keefer invited citizens to his office at 775-4515.
It has been almost 60 days since the city used any source of water for its customers other than El Dorado Lake. No water has been used from the city lake or Santa Fe Lake in that tie.
Usage levels have been seasonably low and even less than 2011 levels. From November 1 through December 3, the city used just over 50 million gallons of water. During the same period in 2011, the city used about 51.87 million gallons. That is about a 3.5 percent decrease.
Mulvane's usage totals have moved the same amount in the other direction. Their usage is up about 500,000 gallons over the same time period from 14.38 million gallons in 2011 to 14.88 million gallons in 2012.
It will take a sustained period of wet weather to recharge the city lake to normal levels. The Augusta City Council has a work session scheduled in January to consider improvements to the water system that will be funded in part with the one cent sales tax approved by voters on November 6.