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Bonita Lakes could have new look

By Staff
LOW WATERS Hugh Smith, the city's assistant public works director, inspects Bonita's lower lake Thursday from the upper dam. Smith said the lower lake will "more than likely" remain significantly lower than what it once was. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
May 3, 2002
Bonita Lake's lower lake may never look the same as it once did.
Hugh Smith, Meridian's assistant public works director, said Thursday the lake will likely remain partially drained just as it has since workers began inspecting leaks in the dam late last year.
Even with significant rainfall, plans call for keeping the lower lake 4 feet below last fall's level with the deepest spot standing at 16 feet.
City workers began slowly draining the lake last October to look for possible leaks in the dam near the spillway. They've been monitoring the dam and the lake the last few months.
The reason: officials with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality's Dam Inspection Division found leaks in the dam during a routine inspection last fall.
Today, the lower lake stands 7 feet below last fall's level; sand bars near the shore replace the area where shallow water once stood. The lake's deepest spot of 20 feet now stands at 13 feet.
Monty Jackson, Meridian's public works director, said the city is looking into "any option we can come up with to make it a better situation."
Even though "things can always change," Jackson said, plans call for keeping the lake at its current level.
Smith said he believes the dam's leaks began when trees were planted in a buffer zone between the lower lake and the east entrance of Bonita Lakes Mall near Highway 19.

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