Freedom — October 24, 2010 — As of today (October 23, 2010), 11 days after Columbus Day, the lake level is down 12 inches from the summer level of 407.25. Three Head Works gates (south side) are open and the level is now going down approximately 3 inches per day.
Had it not been for the rain 8 days ago the level could be down another 8 – 10”. In two days that rain replaced all of the water that was let out with the dam opening starting back before Columbus Day.
Per my email exchange with the State Dam Bureau two days ago, they plan to continue drawing down the level per the schedule agreed to at the Ossipee Lake Dam Authority meeting in the spring 2005. That schedule has the level at 406.5’ by November. (Note that the level is two inches below this plan as of this morning.) Level should be at 405.5’ by December and 404.5’ (winter low) by January. The stop logs on the north side will come out when the level is down to the 405’ spillway height.
This is the plan, but Mother Nature can send the area enough rain in a few days to keep the level up and, like last year, give us a flood up to 407.9’ on December 6th. All of the gates were open but the rain and snow kept coming.
I visited the dam last Thursday morning and was surprised to see all of the heavy lifting equipment and work crew at the south side (Head Works) dam. The crew had been there for several days and was just completing replacement of boards in the five adjustable gates. This was done because in the spring of 2010 the dam operator noticed serious deterioration in one of the gates. The condition was judged to be good enough to get through one more summer.
Replacing this gate is a big job. The roof must be taken off the building and a large crane brought in to lift the gate completely out of the building and down to a place where the old wood can be removed and new wood installed. The new gate is put back in place and the internal lifting mechanism hooked up. (They run it with a big electric drill motor).
With the roof off, the building and the very large equipment in place it was decided to replace the remaining gates. This needs to be a fast job because water is flowing through the opening when the gate is out for repair. When I got there everything was back in place and the roof was almost complete. Three shiny new gates are in the open position. There is now room inside the gate house for winter storage of stop logs from the north side.
When the water level is below the north side spillway later this year, some deteriorating concrete will be repaired – if Mother Nature cooperates.