Lake Monticello drawdown begins with valve opening
In one of the most talked about, if not the most anticipated, events of Monticello Mayor David Anderson’s still short term in office, the drawdown of Lake Monticello began about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday morning to make repairs on the levee.
Anderson, along with City Council members Joe Meeks and Paige Chase, were present as the water began to drain.
Monticello Fire Chief Kelly Reid opened the drain valve on the spillway located next to the levee and the water began rushing out of the long pipe directly on the other side of the levee. The amount of water being let out will be closely monitored in an effort to not flood the surrounding areas.
“We will be watching the weather closely, as well, and we can slow down the flow of water if we need to,” Anderson said.
Meeks, Reid, L.M. Wood, general superintendent for the city of Monticello, and William Andrews of ETC engineering were all present on top of the spillway as the drain was opened.
At this time, there is no exact timeline as to how long it will take to repair the levee because the city is unsure as to how much water will have to be drained in order to do the proper repairs.
No one from the Arkansas Game and Commission, which lobbied for a complete drain of the lake, was present at the opening of the valve.
“This fall or next summer we will put out vegetation to provide organic matter to wildlife in the lake,” Michael Sundberg, an AGFC fisheries biologist specialist, said. “Our plan, while the lake is drawn down, is to repair vegetation pins to prevent grass carp from coming in.
“We cannot sponsor a grass carp tournament but we hope the city will to help eradicate the grass carp population.”
Officials from the AGFC had presented an alternate plan in two recent city council meetings but that alternate plan, including draining Lake Monticello, was voted down by a 5-3 count in the most recent council meeting.
As of right now, Lake Monticello is still open to patrons.