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Thursday, September 15th, 2005 -- 11:48 AM

The five-foot ?drawdown? of Lake Arbutus is set to begin on Sunday.

Originally scheduled to begin today, Bill Harris of North American Hydro tells WCCN the Lake will be ramped down beginning September 18th instead. North American Hydro recently purchased the Hatfield Dam and needs to reduce the water level to get a look at needed repairs.

Harris is hopeful they can reduce the risk of a major flood with repairs to the top of the dam.

"One (repair) would be a repair to the top of the dam that allows debris to pass over the dam more readily," Harris explains. He noted debris jam made the infamous flood of '93 worse than it should have been.

Engineers will also be exploring the ?Probable Maximum Flood? of the dam. The PMF is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The best case scenario would have the Lake drawn down from this fall through the end of next summer, the worst case scenario would have the lake drawn down through the end of the summer of ?07.

When NSP owned the dam, they could conduct regular draw downs; while they had an impact on recreation, Harris doesn?t expect the impact to be great.

"This upcoming will draw down will cause recreational activities to be concentrated in the deeper areas of the lake. It will probably have very little effect," Harris says.

"People will have to take extra care to look for deadheads and rocks. Navigation plans are developed for both water levels."

The reduced lake level won?t happen overnight ? it will be a gradual draw down.

News Director Paul Knoff recently visited the Hatfield Hydro facility and will have a special Viewpoint program next week on Memories 1370 AM.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.