Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lake Faces Drying Times Waycross Park's Waters Drained to Repair Spillway

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lake Faces Drying Times Waycross Park's Waters Drained to Repair Spillway

Article excerpt

WAYCROSS -- It's going to be a long dry spell for the lake at Laura S. Walker State Park.

The lake has been drained to its stump-covered bed in preparation for repairs on a deteriorated spillway and, park officials said, it will be months before the lake is full of water again and at least a year before fishing is allowed.

One consulting and two state engineers will examine the damaged spillway today to determine what repairs are needed, said Ed Reed, manager of Region IV of the State Parks and Historic Sites Division.

Park Manager Bob Boyne said some damage is obvious. Metal portions of the spillway have rusted so badly they can be broken off between a thumb and forefinger, while concrete walls of the structure have crevasses scoured by decades of rushing water.

Built in 1942, the lake was last drained in 1976.

Boyne said it is impossible to say how long it will take for the 120-acre lake to refill, but it depends on rainfall.

It took three weeks to drain the lake, and the smaller lake was pretty productive for fishermen, Boyne said.

People who couldn't catch fish on hooks and lines resorted to using dip nets in the remaining pools, which turned out to be more of an adventure than some had planned, Boyne said.

"A guy dipping up catfish stepped on a six-foot gator," Boyne said. "He took off that way, the gator went the other way. They both came back."

Park workers have made the usual finds -- tires, soft drink cans and bottles and assorted junk -- but some they didn't expect, such as two mailboxes and a roll of wire.

"We found two rifles over at the bridge," Boyne said of a concrete span that carries Georgia 177 traffic over an arm of the lake. "We turned those over to the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation)."

The lake bed is covered with swamps left over from when the land was originally cleared. …

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