05/24/05 — Cliffs lake too low for swimmers

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Cliffs lake too low for swimmers

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 24, 2005 1:49 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- The swimming area at the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park will not open this weekend.

There's not enough water.

Park ranger Dan Smith said today the swimming area normally opens Memorial Day weekend but that won't be the case this year.

The only water in the 11-acre man-made lake is the spring running through it. A lack of rain has left the lake too low to accommodate swimmers, Smith said.

The lake is fed by an underground spring and rainfall. Rain is needed to keep the underground spring going, Smith said. The lake level has been rising, Smith said, but not enough to open it to swimmers.

Smith said there hasn't been enough rain to recharge the lake because of a delay in a repair project on the lake's earthen dam. The repair work last fall was the first ever done on the 50-year-old lake's earthen dam drainage system.

The job is still unfinished, Smith said. Some of the original drainage pipes on the back side still need to be replaced. He said the workers had to lower the level of the lake to perform the repairs, and that they tried to do the work in the fall so swimming would not be affected. But the valve closed to refill the lake in February rather than December.

"Eight weeks is not a long time," Smith said. "Normally February is a very wet month. Some areas around us got more rain than we did in Seven Springs. There were times Goldsboro got rain, and we did not. It's only half way full now, not enough for swimming. I hate that."

Smith said park officials will monitor the lake level as summer approaches, with an eye toward opening it for swimmers at some point. But he noted that "we're in the drier time of the year."