Editor’s Note: Residents on and near many area lakes are enjoying ice-fishing and may be looking forward to other winter water sports as the polar vortex and associated plummeting temperatures come through. But conditions are extremely hazardous on Beaver Dam Lake due to water draw down for dam reconstruction, per the following warning from Lawrence Rossini, Chairman of the Beaver Dam Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District
Residents Are Advised To Keep Off Beaver Dam Lake Due to Hazardous Conditions
This Includes People, Snowmobiles, ATVs and Vehicles
Unstable Ice – Entering upon the ice during lake drawdown is dangerous and needs to be avoided. The recent water drawdown combined with freezing temperatures has resulted in very unstable and weak ice conditions on the surface of Beaver Dam Lake. The fluctuating water level is causing continuous cracking and weakening of the ice throughout the lake as well as some localized air pockets under the ice. The contractor working on the dam reported seeing a sudden ice collapse of about one foot near the construction site yesterday. Immersion in cold water causes cold shock and rapid hypothermia (lowered body temperature). Survival time in cold lake water is fairly short and immersion can be fatal.
Unstable Lake Bottom – There are scattered areas of drained lake bottom that are water saturated (unstable silt and mud) with characteristics similar to quick sand. Residents are advised to use extreme caution when entering upon the exposed lake bottom. Avoid ice or snow covered areas since it’s not possible to tell the stability of the underlying bottom.
Emergency Situations – Immediately call 911 (not a local seven digit number) if you witness or are involved in a lake related emergency (through the ice, trapped in mud, etc). This is the fastest way to get help from specialized rescue personnel and equipment. The Salisbury Mills Fire Department is the primary and closest response agency for lake related emergencies and has developed special response plans for our lake for water, ice related and mud entrapment emergencies. The plans automatically activate other emergency response agencies (police, fire, ambulance, special operations unit, etc). The one call to 911 also simultaneously dispatches the closest police patrol unit regardless of jurisdiction (Town, State, Sheriff, etc). Seconds can mean the difference between life and death in a water emergency.
Lake Draining – Water level has been drawn down by about 12 feet as of January 28th. Parts of the lake are still up to 16 feet deep. The lake is anticipated to be completely drained to accommodate spillway reconstruction, sluice gate replacement and structural improvements. The lake has been draining through one of the two sluice gates (drain valves) at the base of the dam since December 4th. Two siphons and a large pump have been added to increase the rate of drawdown. Drawdown has been slowed by recent rain events but continues to make progress.
(Photo by Derek Robertson)