Parks Department Superintendent, Chad Jonsson met with us to offer some insight into his role in lake level management for our community. The parks department is currently responsible for monitoring lake level, responding to changes by opening and closing the structure gate to release water.
What’s New In Lake Level Management
The Turkey Creek Dam and Dike Conservancy added lake level monitoring devices to previously installed buoys earlier this summer. We’ve remained at lake level all summer, so there hasn’t been much of a chance for Chad to test them much to measure how quickly he can make these moves when manually opening and closing gates. However, it will soon offer a good estimate for how long it will take to allow water to leave these areas.
Wet Seasons Require Closer Monitoring
For the most part, water remains at lake level throughout the summer with only minor adjustments required here and there alongside routine checks. However, in Spring and Fall it takes more time and attention to remain at lake level, requiring a daily check. It’s also worth noting that rain can be absorbed without opening and closing gates which factors into the decision as to how much water to let out.
What Goes Into Lake Water Level Management?
The State of Indiana determines the Lake Level measurements. However, being a flowing body of water, it is very seldom at exact number due to water going in and out all the time. The goal is to maintain the level as close as possible at all times.
Methods for doing so depend on a few key factors, mostly determined by the season/amount of rainfall. They can include:
- Checking the structure to see what’s there for adjustments
- Monitoring larger storms in wet seasons and letting water out to prepare
- Monitoring bridges and other structures below the dam to ensure too much water doesn’t go out at once
- Other considerations to manage to prevent flooding below site
- Water is let out in winter to allow time for melting snow and ice to drain
The parks department often receives calls in the Spring asking to drop lake level after periods of rain. However, it’s important to note that this is not a quick process! Essentially, there’s a lot of water surface going through a 8-12ft hole. In order to drop lake level even an inch takes a period of time. Though again, because water level typically stays the same throughout summer (and thanks to diligent monitoring from Chad) lake season activities rarely/if ever see disruption on the basis of lake levels!