WEDOWEE - During an emergency called meeting on Saturday morning, Randolph County Commission approved measures to lower the water level of Crystal Lake, water source for the city of Roanoke.

The commission approved the rental of two siphoning pipes. The pipes should pull the water level down enough to repair an as yet undetermined blockage to the overflow pipe.

"Although the county doesn't own or control it, we have taken emergency drainage measures for safety reasons," said Chairman Terry Lovvorn as the meeting began.

Vernon Abney of the National Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) explained that the county has a 1959 agreement with NRCS regarding Crystal Lake and other watershed lakes. In 1960 another agreement was signed for Roanoke to do operation and maintenance of the lake. Abney said this is not typically how the agreements were written, and his office is looking into it.

County engineer Burrel Jones said the county has spent $33,730 at the lake, including renting four pumps for two weeks and fixing an access road. The pumps have been lowering the water level, but will be returned when the siphons begin.

Randolph County has received approximately 8 inches of rain thus far in February and approximately 16.5 inches for the year.

He recommended installing siphoning pipes to increase the flow. A siphon would also be fuel-less, less maintenance, flow more water and be more cost effective. When the lake level is lowered, they can determine what the blockage is in the overflow pipe. Jones went on to say this will put the paving schedule behind because this expense comes from a highway department fund.

"Will the city reimburse us for this?" asked Commissioner Lathonia Wright. "We don't know who owns it. The city needs to be in on these discussions. I understand safety. If we don't do this, what happens?"

Jones explained the spillway at the dam has been altered, shortened, and does not function as it was originally designed. The overflow pipe is currently inoperable and the rains keep coming. The lake has to be at normal pool to be an operational level.

"I think all the commissioners need to be here (only three were). We've spent $30,000 and we don't know who owns it," said Wright.

EMA Donnie Knight said, "I've tried to assist the engineer with control of the problem. I recommend we do what he says. He has a good plan. He knows the problem better than us. I've assisted with whatever we need to do."

Commissioner Larry Roberts said, "We don't need to worry about whose dollar. We're all in this together. We need to sit down with the city and water authority. The city has to have water. Without a dam, they can't have water for their people. It will cost more if they don't have water for their people. We need to correct it and pay for it down the road."

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