Serving the Goreville & Lake of Egypt areas since 1977


Lake of Egypt in need of recovery; conservation urged

Posted November 23, 2012 by Joe Rehana in News

As the Midwest continues to recover from one of its worst droughts on record, Southern Illinois is still on the dry side and the levels at the Lake of Egypt are yet in recovery.

While Illinois’ October statewide average precipitation was 3.9 inches, 0.7 inches above normal, Southern Illinois recorded much drier conditions with areas receiving less than 3 inches of precipitation, according to climatologist at the University of Illinois.

Lake levels at the Lake of Egypt ebb near the 30-inches-and-below level at the dam while weather forecasts calls for continued clear skies in the coming weeks. The lake levels have continued to fluctuate as the Midwest recovers from one of the worst droughts on record and Illinois’ 15th driest January-October with precipitation levels at 27.1 inches, nearly 5.8 inches below average.

This lack of rain is not helping the recovery of the Lake of Egypt as it was reported at 29 inches below the dam Monday and is on track to shed another inch in the coming weeks if the region does not receive precipitation.

“We’ve added a little reminder to our bills that say, ‘The drought is not over,’” said Perry Musgrave, Lake Egypt Water District general manager, adding that the water district is still requesting its customers continue practicing conservation.  “We really need to see some rain in the next week or two.”

If the lake level does drop another inch and sustains that reduced depth into the next billing cycle, drought rates will continue and at 30-inches below the dam, will increase to $2 per every additional 1,000 gallons used above the minimum.

“These drought rates are not revenue based, they are to encourage conservation,” said Musgrave, adding that the fees are going into a special fund to locate and secure an alternate water source.  “We are looking at our future in ensuring we are able to provide service to our customers.”

The Lake Egypt Water District and The Southern Illinois Power Cooperative, which owns the lake and the shoreline up to the 505-elevation mark, issued a press release together in August as loss in lake levels showed no immediate sign of recovery requesting all use of lake water be reduced.

In an effort to encourage conservation, the Lake Egypt Water District announced its issuance of an ordinance that would increase water rates based on lake levels at the spillway.  In August the rates were reported as five levels with the increase rate charged per every additional 1,000 gallons used above the minimum. According to the ordinance, when the water level at the Lake of Egypt spillway falls, at any time during a billing cycle, below 24 inches the rates shall increase $1; below 30 inches, $2; below 36 inches, $3; below 40 inches, $5; and below 48 inches, $10.

According to the water district, which serves the water districts of Goreville, Lick Creek, Devils Kitchen, Creal Springs, Burnside and 4,500 residential customers, if the lake were to ever fall below 60 inches the Power Cooperative would require all pumping of lake water to cease until a recover of levels were sustained.  Lake levels have fluctuated over the past weeks, according to Musgrave, but soil moisture and stream flows are only just beginning to recover.

“The statewide average precipitation for January-October was 27.1 inches, nearly 5.8 inches below average,” according to Illinois State Climatologist at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.  “This made it the 15th driest January-October and virtually tied with 2005. The driest was in 1901 with 22.0 inches. The second driest was 1988 with 22.1 inches.”

With Thanksgiving temperatures forecasted as sunny and in the sixties, rain for the region is still in demand.