1. Despite the challenges posed by the heavy rains and early cold snap this fall, the MPOA contractor successfully wrapped up their repairs to the Wonder Lake dam spillway. In order to get to where the spillway leaks originated, the lake had to be temporarily drawn down roughly 5 and ½ feet. Concrete repairs were then completed on both the interior and exterior surfaces of the dam spillway where the minor leaks had been observed.
2. The annually required inspection of the Wonder Lake Dam and the Wonder Lake Sediment Drying Facility (SDF) was conducted on October 18th. This timing allowed the State and MPOA engineers to observe the lake in a drawdown condition, which gave them a unique perspective.
3. The MPOA has gradually begun closing the dam spillway sluices to allow the lake to begin refilling. The sluice gates cannot be closed off entirely to speed up refilling of the lake, as flow still has to be released downstream to Nippersink Creek. The time for the lake to refill to normal pool is entirely subject to how much precipitation falls, but it is estimated that it may likely take somewhere around a month or so.
4. In addition to the spillway repairs, the drawdown allowed a number of MPOA projects to be completed, including the remaining dredging of the West Bay boat channel, and the installation of a new boat ramp on the MPOA frontage on the north shore of West Bay. It also allowed shoreline stabilization projects receiving IEPA cost-share funding to be installed at the Troy Creek inlet at Deep Springs Woods Country Club and along the MPOA frontage on north shore of West Bay. Numerous other shoreline / boat ramp projects were also implemented by property owners around the lake.
5. The MPOA thanks everyone who took advantage of the drawdown to work on their shorelines / boat ramps and to clean accumulated debris from the lakebed, as well as those who understood the need to properly maintain the 90 year old spillway structure that creates Wonder Lake.
6. To continue these efforts, the Wonder Lake Sportsman’s Club is coordinating another clean-up for this coming Saturday, November 16th from 9 am to 1 pm. Everyone is welcome to join in this volunteer effort, with the meeting spot being the Hickory Falls 1&2 lakefront on E. Lake Shore Drive, immediately south of the dam.
7. The regularly scheduled “3rd Saturday” Nippersink Watershed Association (NWA) Merchant Creek workday for November 16th will not take place as it would conflict with the WLSC cleanup effort. The next NWA workday will take place on December 20th.
8. The lake drawdown provided visual evidence of where dredging occurred, and where dredged areas at creek inlets are once again accumulating sediment. This, unfortunately, is a natural occurrence on dammed lakes. The MPOA will continue to work with watershed partners to try to reduce upstream sources of sediment. In addition, the MPOA is hoping to develop a resale program for the sediment already dredged and now stored in the MPOA SDF to help fund future dredging efforts.
9. The 5 and ½ feet of drawdown also exposed numerous logs, debris, and other items on the lake bed, some of which were able to be removed by volunteer efforts. It is recognized that there are additional items that could not be removed during the drawdown due to being inaccessible, but those locations have been noted so that removal efforts might resume next year when the lake is at normal pool.
10. The refilling of the lake will create highly variable ice conditions until the normal pool of the lake is reached. Any winter lake users accessing the ice will need to be exceptionally careful to avoid any debris trapped in or protruding through the ice, as well as day-to-day changes in ice conditions.