Dredging complete, lake refill begins

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While the dredging of Lake Peachtree is officially complete and refilling of the lake has begun (the level rose by 18 inches last Thursday), the city’s work is really just beginning, according to officials.

Fayette County officials announced Thursday that the contractor, Massana, had completed its work in the lake bed for the dredging of Lake Peachtree. Residents will continue to see Massana in the Drake Field area for a few days as they clean up the work site before turning it over to the city.

A number of projects will continue in the coming weeks, months, and years:

· As the lake refills, residents will continue to see plant stalks and floating debris from the vegetation removal project in the fall.  Peachtree City’s contractor, Estate Management Services, is scheduled to return in early April (if the lake level is adequate) with the floating harvester to remove this debris.

· Peachtree City crews will also begin working on the restoration of Drake Field as a passive park so that it can be enjoyed again as soon as possible.  The installation of the new Battery Way dock, which has been fabricated and delivered, has also been scheduled for late April (pending weather conditions and the pool level of the Lake).

· Fishing in Lake Peachtree may take a bit longer, but staff will be working closely with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.  Following several months at full pool to allow oxygen levels to stabilize and to let the current fish population readapt to the filled lake, Peachtree City and Fayette County will restock the lake based on DNR recommendations.  

· In the near future, the City of Peachtree City will also begin the process of designing the replacement of the spillway, with replacement possibly as early as 2020, with Fayette County contributing $2 million toward that project.

Lake Peachtree is owned by Peachtree City and managed by Fayette County as part of the Water System.  The lake was originally lowered in January of 2014 for private shoreline and dock maintenance.  During that time, issues with the spillway were discovered.  The Georgia Safe Dams Commission reclassified the dam as a Category 1 structure and refused to allow the Lake to be refilled. This new classification would have led to significant additional costs to upgrade the dam before the lake could be refilled.

Peachtree City contested the reclassification in the summer of 2014 and initiated more detailed dam breach modeling to assist in the determination.  The state notified the city of the reversal of the dam classification to Category 2 in December 2014.

By that time, Fayette County had issued bids for the planned dredging of lake, and contracts were awarded in January 2015.  Fayette County also proceeded with temporary repairs to the spillway, now allowed due to the return to the Category 2 dam classification, so the lake could be refilled upon completion of the dredging.

And then the rains came.  

In 2015, Peachtree City received an estimated 24 inches of rain above the five-year average rainfall, extending the dredging project by months.  Because it serves as a stormwater collector from a number of streams, Lake Peachtree’s water level could be raised by five to eight feet following a two-inch rain event.  This happened several times during the project, submerging not only the contractor’s equipment, but also the haul roads built to support the weight of the dump trucks removing siltation.