CATEGORY: Benton County
HED:Year after dam burst, area has lake back
By Michaela Gibson Morris
SNOW LAKE SHORES Almost a year after their dam gave way, residents of this Benton County town finally have their lake back.
The lake’s old dam gave way June 12, taking about 25 feet of the levee with it and dropping the lake level by about 10 feet.
It took about nine-and-a-half months and a $211,000-construction project to put a new dam in place. The lake returned to its regular levels about April 1, and it took another month to clean out debris, replace spillway lights and replace the town’s flags off Mississippi Highway 4.
“It was quite an undertaking,” said C.Y. Graves, president of the Snow Lake Shores Corp. that maintains the lake in the middle of the town.
The new dam should easily outlast the original 1958 dam, Graves said.
“There’s so much more concrete (in the new dam), and more steel reinforcing it below,” Graves said.
Additionally, project engineers moved the lake’s culvert, used to control the lake level, to take pressure off the spillway, Graves said.
“We wanted to get the culvert completely away from the spillway,” Graves said.
The culvert, which used to run under the dam, is the suspected culprit in June’s dam collapse, Graves said.
“They say that’s where all the pressure was,” Graves said.
The town of Snow Lakes Shores, which was incorporated almost three years ago, helped secure a $75,000 Community Development Block Grant and a low-interest loan to help rebuild the dam, Graves said. The remaining money came from individual donations and the sale of lots.
Even though the lake is owned by the Snow Lake Shores Corp., the town and corporation were able to receive public grant money because the lake helps back up the town’s water system and a low lake level put the town’s fire boat out of commission, Graves said.
The town plans to celebrate with two days of events on Independence Day weekend, Graves said.
In addition to bands, food and boat rides, organizers are planning an extra special fireworks display, in part to make up for the canceled celebration last year.
“We had to send folks to school to shoot these fireworks,” Graves said.
Now that the lake level is back to normal, officials will be keeping an eye on the lake’s aquatic residents, Graves said.
The three main springs that feed the lake kept about 50 acres of water in the lake while the dam was out, preserving the fish population, Graves said.
Experts from the Pvt. John Allen National Fish Hatchery in Tupelo have told town officials that the weeds that grew up while the lake was drained will provide excellent fish habitat for the young fish in the lake.
“We’ll be better off in the long run,” Graves said.
The corporation will have experts evaluate the lake’s health and fish population at the end of the summer, Graves said.