City raises lake level, halts odor

By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

After initially being turned down by officials with the Department of Natural Resources, City of Burlington Administrator Carina Walters succeeded late last week in convincing the state agency to allow city officials to raise the level of water in Echo Lake – ending a brief, but odiferous, chapter in the city’s history.

Walters reiterated her plea to DNR officials by describing the stench as something from a pig farm.

The swampy odor rising from the exposed shallow portions of the lake put a very different twist on the city that is known as Chocolate City, U.S.A., for the pleasant cocoa scent that often wafts from the Nestles plant on the city’s south side.

By late Friday, however, odorgate was abated after city crews received permission to close the Echo Lake dam gate to a level that would cover the shallow portions of the lake bottom, yet keep the lake from rising above the dam’s spillway, Walters said.

“We found a balance,” she said. “Now we have to monitor (the lake level) based on the rain.”

“They met us halfway,” Walters said of the DNR.

The DNR ordered the drawdown of the lake in the wake of the mid July flood that overwhelmed the dam and overran the banks of the lake near Echo Park. The drawdown enabled inspection of the dam, which resulted in recommended repairs to the spillway and area immediately north of the dam.

The task that’s now before the city is to repair the chips and cracks in the spillway and install fence-like device that will keep logs and other debris from becoming caught in the dam’s gate, Walters said.

“I’d like to get it done as soon as possible,” she said.

In the meantime, city crews will have to monitor lake levels and manually raise or lower the dam’s gate to maintain a level that accommodates the repairs, but keeps the lake’s shallow areas under water.