Dam found OK lowering of lake is called off

March 03, 1994|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Western Maryland Bureau of The Sun

FREDERICK -- State officials yesterday rescinded an order to draw some water from a man-made lake at Lake Linganore at Eaglehead after tests showed an earthen dam was structurally safe.

"Preliminary indications show there's no benefit to continuing the lake draw-down," said Patricia Manown, a state Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman in Western Maryland.

"DNR feels that any emergency situation is over. Safety has been our main concern."

Ms. Manown said DNR rescinded the order after reviewing structural tests conducted by Schnabel Engineering Associates, a Baltimore firm that was hired by residents and the Lake Linganore Association, a homeowners group that maintains public areas in the 3,700-acre development east of Frederick.

The order by DNR's Dam Safety Division last month to lower the water level in Lake Merle for further dam inspections prompted an outcry from residents who live in two villages surrounding the 14-acre lake.

They feared that extensive draining would destroy wetlands.

"We are extremely happy with [DNR's] decision," said Jack Alspaugh, a lakefront resident. "We hope there's minimal kill to wildlife. This preserves most of the water level of the lake.

"DNR deserves a big hand on this. They worked around the clock to help us."

DNR ordered Lake Linganore Association officials to lower the water level in the lake by 16 feet after inspections showed seepage and sliding earth on the downside of the 20-year-old dam. Residents speculated that the seepage was nothing more than run-off caused by melting snow.

Ms. Manown said DNR officials were concerned about the dam's structural integrity and the safety of downstream residents.

DNR officials said additional studies are planned to ensure the dam's future safety.

Mr. Alspaugh said pumping during the past week has lowered the lake by about 4 feet.

DNR officials said a stream feeding the lake and precipitation will restore the water level within several days.

Lake Merle is one of four lakes in the development. The lake is fed by a stream and drains into Linganore Creek and the much larger Lake Linganore and eventually the Monocacy River.

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