Why does the permit cost so much?
There is no charge for a municipality to apply for a Corps of Engineers 404 Permit. The costs associated with the permit are to hire a consulting firm to conduct the background work needed to develop an approvable 404 Permit application as based upon several pre-permit application meetings between LWRC members, City Staff, and Tulsa District Corps of Engineers staff that identified the needed information.
Why wasn’t this done years ago when so and so offered to do it for free?
The instances that have led to this misconception include one offer from Sheppard Air Force Base and another when the spillway was lowered. The best available information regarding these instances indicate that the Sheppard offer was to conduct training in excavation and earth work but would have never been of the magnitude to make a significant difference in the lake’s depth. The instance of when the spillway was lowered was an offer from Corps of Engineers to permit the excavation or dredging but the cost would have still been on the City of Wichita Falls and was estimated at $20-million. Leadership at that time did not feel that the community would support such an expense. This is the best information regarding such instances that we can find.
What’s the difference between excavating and dredging?
Typically when the term “dredging” is used it is referring to conducting a hydraulic dredging operation that includes disturbing the bottom sediment and pumping both sediment and water to settling basins. The water is then returned to the reservoir/lake.
We use the term excavate regarding this project because the lake is dry. The water that is left in the lake can and will be drained so that the sediment can be excavated dry.
How deep are you going to dig it?
We anticipate excavating on average 3.5-feet to increase average depth to 8-feet but will also have areas that are as deep as 12 to 15-feet.
Why aren’t you going to dig it out more?
The excavation is intended to remove the sediment that has filled in the lake over the last 114-years. Depending on the soil types beneath the original lake bottom, digging much deeper increases the risk of decreasing the lake’s ability to retain water. Finally, an average depth of 8-feet is of sufficient depth to sustain a quality fish population and the expense of additional of excavation is unwarranted.
Where’s the water to fill it going to come from?
A major portion of this project is reconnecting the lake’s natural watershed by excavating back to the original creek channels thus allowing the water to actually reach the lake. Most importantly though is that this project will work with willing landowners in the watershed to remove invasive salt cedar and mesquite trees and restore native grass lands. Mesquite and salt cedar consume a considerable amount of water. Native grasses use less water but also have an added benefit being able to hold back sediment better with their more intricate root systems (this brings a side benefit of helping maintain the water storage capacity in the lake for a greater length of time).
What about Golden Alga fish kills?
Golden Alga fish kills have plagued Lake Wichita in part because of the addition of the Lake Diversion water that is high in chlorides. The water from the natural watershed of Lake Wichita is much fresher than that of Lake Diversion. We believe that disconnecting the Diversion Canal from Lake Wichita could freshen Lake Wichita to the point where it is not conducive to Golden Alga fish kill events. Also, in the event that Golden Alga fish kills do still occasionally occur we believe that all of the other fisheries habitat enhancements in the lake will aid in the lake returning back to a good quality fishery in a more timely fashion.
Where are you going to put all the dirt?
Several landowners within two miles of the lake have donated their land as disposal sites and as a worst case scenario the City landfill could be utilized. As part of the permitting process we are mapping out all of the locations to ensure that they are approved by the Corps of Engineers and appropriate for disposal.
Why don’t you sell the dirt?
We have investigated several possibilities of selling some of the dirt but so far it is not of the appropriate makeup for the uses the interested companies may have wanted it for. We will continue to look for options to sell some of the dirt to help fund the project.
Why don’t you raise the spillway back up?
This is not an option due to flood control issues.
Are you going to rebuild the Pavilion?
We would like to see a Pavilion type structure developed on the dam and are putting such considerations in our permit application in case that does come to fruition once the lake is fixed. That is however something that would need to occur after the lake is fixed and is not an immediate priority.
Where’s the money going to come from?
The funding will come from a variety of sources including government, corporate, and foundation grants and donations from individuals. The project partners working together include both Government and Non-Profit entities that enables the project to be eligible for a wider range of grants and also gives individuals the ability to donate directly to Government or the non-profit depending on their desires.
How long is the project going to take?
We expect to acquire a permit by the end of 2015 or early 2016. The project should take 1.5 to 3 years. With appropriate funding this project could be complete and ready for water by the middle of 2017.
What happens if the Lake fills up before you are done excavating?
When the dam and spillway were rebuilt there was a drain built into the dam that enables the lake to be drained. If it rains prior to this project being completed then we will need to let that water run through the dam and flow down Holliday Creek. A short-term loss of a little water will be the price we’ll have to pay in order to have our lake back for another century.
What types of fish are you going to stock?
TPWD will conduct the fish stocking and plan to stock Florida Largemouth Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, White Crappie, Bluegill Sunfish, Redear Sunfish, and Channel Catfish.
When are you going to start?
This project started in May of 2013 when the City of Wichita Falls City Council established the Lake Wichita Study Committee and the Committee has since been working, studying, and researching to ensure that this project learns from the past, reflects the desires and needs of our community, is a sound project in every aspect, and will benefit our community for greater than a Century when completed. As far as when are we going to start digging, we will begin digging as soon as we have a permit in hand and the funds required for the City to hire a company to get to work.