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Dredging could alleviate drought

Update: 4:11 pm, 2/4/14, Tuesday DECATUR -- In the past few years, Lake Decatur has struggled to provide enough water to the area.
Update: 4:11 pm, 2/4/14, Tuesday
DECATUR -- In the past few years, Lake Decatur has struggled to provide enough water to the area. Now, city leaders are taking steps to fix it. The city council approved a multi-million dollar dredging project. WCIA-3's Ashely Michels explains what it means for the city and its water supply.

This is what Lake Decatur looked like back in the summer of 2012. It was one of the worst droughts on record. The lake lost so much water, the city had to shut down car washes and close boat launches.

Officials say the lake just isn't big enough anymore to handle such extreme weather. Over the years, Lake Decatur has become shallower. That's because, as water flows in, it brings sediment. Dredging will dig that out so the lake can hold more water again.

"If we would have had this dredging project done, we would not have had the mandatory water restrictions we had back in 2012."

Starting this summer, a boat will sit out on the lake and pump sediment through a pipeline to a remote site.

"Some areas of the lake will take out 6 - 8 feet of sediment."

It will make the lake 30% bigger. City leaders say the extra space will act as a "safety net" if it starts to dry up again.

"Currently, Lake Decatur holds about 172 days of water during our worst-case drought scenario. This will add 52 days to that water supply which is where we come up with that 30% figure, so it's massive improvement."

For those who spend summers out on the lake, officials say dredging won't ruin your plans.

"The vast majority of the lake will be open for boating and recreation, except for some minor area right around where the dredging operations will actually happen at."

The project will cost the city nearly $90 million. The money will come from last year's water rate increase. City leaders say the dredging will take about six years to complete.
Original: 10:05 pm, 2/3/14, Monday
DECATUR -- Droughts could be a thing of the past after a new project was approved. It will cost the city $89 million to dredge four basins in Lake Decatur. It's designed to create more space for water. Council members say it will add 52 days of supply.
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