Perhaps I should begin with a little description. What you see above is the opening of the overflow drain set near the top of the dam. That’s the lake water at the top of the photo. The small retaining wall we built to keep the top of the dam from eroding into the drain is at the bottom of the photo.
I took this photo when we were last out at Roundrock, just over two weeks ago, and it tells me that we missed some excitement several days prior to that. The accumulation of twigs and leaves on the screen covering the overflow drum shows that in recent days, water had topped the lip of the drum and had been pouring in. The flotsam that couldn’t fit through the screen collected on the top of it. When the waters receded, the debris remained.
Just after I took the photo I stumbled down the face of the dam to clean the debris off of the screen. If enuf collected there, it could effectively block the drain, which would then cause the overflow to pass over the emergency spillway — the last resort for draining excess water from a lake.
The builder told me that he had visited a new dam he had constructed for a much larger lake and found the overflow drum blocked by a log jam. (I don’t know if the logs were tree sized or if it was more like firewood — more likely — or even twigs.) Barely any water was draining into the drum even though the water was high enuf that is should have been. He told me that he waded into the water at the drum and began tugging at the logs to clear them. The water then was able to surge into the drum. He said that the next thing to happen surprised him. The whole dam began to vibrate, apparently from the sudden force of the water passing through it.
I don’t know if he was scared at the time, but I know I would have been. Imagine standing in the lake beside a drain that is sucking in water at a tremendous rate. All the while the earth is shaking under your feet.
He told me that the dam held up and is working fine to this day. I saw it once, long after the incident he described, and it was beautiful, holding back something like 17 acres of water and looking so lovely that I decided I needed a lake of my own.
But I’m going to be sure to keep the drain cleared every chance I get.
- Look for pussy willows’ fuzzy blooms.
Today in Missouri history:
- Governor Hadley signed legislation calling for a bond issue to finance a new capitol building on this date in 1911. The old building was gutted by a fire started by a bolt of lightning.