Men at work: Lake Lamar Bruce officially closed for levee repair

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Anglers partial to Lake Lamar Bruce will have to find another fishing hole for at least two years.
The popular fishing and recreation lake in Saltillo is officially closed in order to have a 50-year-old dam replaced.
Mayor Bill Williams said even though many residents and avid fishermen are disappointed that they can’t use the lake, closing it to have the dam rebuilt was necessary.
“The dam was starting to leak and had some weak points in it, so it was deemed hazardous to the area so we had to have it rebuilt,” said Williams.
“Lake Lamar is a very popular fishing spot and an important part of Saltillo so we know it’s going to be hard to not have it for a while. But it’s going to be better and stronger than ever once the project is complete.”
Williams said the entire project is expected to take at least two years. Plans call for work to begin in the spring after a bid for the job is accepted, which Williams said will happen in February or March. The goal is to have the levee rebuilt in 2011.
The lake will be half-filled by 2012 and restocked with fish, which will be given a year to mature. If all goes well, the lake could open again to fishermen in 2013.
But everything depends on favorable weather. Worst-case scenario, Williams said, is the project could take three years before the lake reopens.
Lake Lamar Bruce, which is owned by the state, opened in 1962 and covers 300 acres. The construction of the dam is being funded by the state, according to Larry Pugh with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Pugh said the Lake Lamar Bruce levee was reclassified by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, which made it a priority for long-term repair.
According to Williams, DEQ graded the levee as the highest hazard levee in the state.
Because the levee is being built to higher standards than it was 50 years ago, Williams said it will last beyond the next 50 years. And for those who will miss their fishing spot, he says they are in for a treat.
“All the wildlife people and biologists I’ve talked to said the lake will have the best fishing in the area once it’s reopened,” said Williams.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.