Area lake under close observation

Area lake under close observation

DECATUR -- Officials have been keeping a close eye on an area lake's water levels.
 DECATUR -- Officials have been keeping a close eye on an area lake's water levels. As of now, Lake Decatur is at about an average level; just a few points shy of where it should be. But if we don't get rain soon, experts warn it could get worse. WCIA-3's Alex Davis visited the lake Tuesday.

This time last year, Lake Decatur measured around 611' above sea level.

Mahomet resident Adam Flack said, "Last year, it was crazy low."

Because of the severe drought, it was about 3.5' lower than where it needed to be. These days, water levels are slightly below average.

"It looks pretty normal for this time of year. The weather has been recently pretty moderate outside."

But the city's Water Department says if you delve a little deeper, the numbers still aren't measuring up. The lake is about 1.5' shy of where it should be.

"Anytime that we see the lake descending at a rapid pace, yeah, we're going to be watching it pretty close and see how fast it goes down," said Don Giger, Water Production Operations Supervisor.

Giger says, since the city's water supply sits on the surface rather than underground, it's more at risk of loss. On a warm, dry, sunny day, the lake can lose as much as 10-15 million gallons of water.

"Anytime that you've got a surface supply like this, you're exposed to not only the elements, but you're exposed to evaporation."

City officials say they'll continue to monitor water levels to determine whether or not they will call for conservation efforts.

"If we know where the lake is at by history and practice, we can predict how fast it can go down. With that, we have background knowledge of where we could be, and we can plan for the worst-case scenario."

Last year's concerns led city leaders looking for water alternatives. They are dredging and improving eight wells in neighboring DeWitt County.
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