WHEATLAND — The high water level of Lilly Lake in Wheatland has resulted in implementation of a slow, no-wake rule and has town officials looking for ways to draw it down.
“This is pretty high,” said Kathleen Mullins, 28, who has been visiting her grandmother Bunny Mullins at the lake since she was young. “It has been high before, but I feel like it has gone down quicker.”
The lake does not have a specific level at which a slow, no-wake order goes into effect. But, the lake level is monitored, and the Town Board issues the directive when needed to protect the shoreline from damage caused by waves of high-speed boats and other personal watercraft
It was noted at the Town Board meeting this week that the lake is at a similar level as the summer of 2017, when Wheatland experienced historic flooding of the Fox River. A slow, no-wake order was also issued then.
Mullins said she can remember her grandmother having up to 10 feet of beach area between her retaining walls and the shoreline.
“We had a huge beach when I was growing up,” she recalled. “There is no beach right now. The water is up to the retaining wall.”
Some residents, like Marilyn Magnuski, have no retaining wall. For them, crashing waves can erode the shoreline.
Mike Adam, who records the lake level on behalf of the town, said the problem stems from there being no outlet from the lake.
“We have to rely on evaporation,” he said.
On Monday, the Lilly Lake Protection & Rehabilitation District Board of Commissioners voted to hold the district’s annual meeting earlier this year, on Aug. 3, and invite town engineer Len Roecker discuss potential drainage options.
Roecker has identified two possible options to drain the lake to the west or to the south. Draining the lake to the west could require coordinating with the state Department of Natural Resources due to the proximity to Palmer Creek, a trout stream.
Draining the lake to the south would avoid sensitive areas, but would require negotiating with a private property owner.
The lake district board approved spending up to $2,500 for Roecker to develop preliminary drainage options to be presented at the meeting in August.