BILLINGS - Over the next several days, Lake Elmo will have close to half of its water drained out. Bob Gibson, communication and education program manager with Montana's Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) said it's all repair work which needs to be done.
"A Billings Heights man ran his car through the fence and through the outlet structure and into the lake. And that broke the actual concrete and steel structure that the Billings Bench Water Association uses to take water out of the lake and into its canal," said Gibson.
It will take several days to fix the outlet. The city will also use that time to rebuild the rock wall nearby.
"It's been, I'm guessing, about 20 years since it was drained. When Rogers Pier was installed right behind the headquarters in the lake, the water was level was pulled down for a while to accommodate that construction," said Gibson.
But does FWP expect to find anything lurking beneath the water when the lake is drained? Gibson said he is pretty sure there's nothing nefarious down in the depths.
"This lake gets used heavily enough that there's no surprises on the bottom at all," he said.
But there are freshwater mussels, native to the region, that dwell there. The mussels and the fish that inhabit the lake should end up being just fine, since the water will only be down for a couple of days.
"There's a ton of fish in here and by and large, they're just going to find the deeper holes. About maybe a quarter to a third of this lake is 16 feet deep, so they'll still have 8 to 10 feet of water over them," said Gibson.
FWP will be adding thousands of fish to the lake, as they do every year for fishing, once the water levels return to normal. Gibson expects the water levels will be back up to normal by the end of next week.