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A long stretch of grass and weeds separate the docks (at left) from the water of Lake Beseck. Mark Dionne/Town Times

Lake Beseck refill depends on rain

The repair of the Lake Beseck dam is projected to finish by Labor Day, but the return of the water that will make Lake Beseck itself look like a lake again depends on rainfall.

According to Ted Rybak, project manager for the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, the water level went down between 13 and 15 feet for the project.

The valve on a 48-inch drain pipe was opened in October 2013, lowering the water level. The draw down permitted the repair of weaknesses in the dam at the lake’s southern end.

At the time, the repair was scheduled to take 300 calendar days. If the repair is finished in August, as anticipated, it will mean the project went slightly over schedule.

“I was hoping to be done by the Fourth of July, but we had other problems,” said Rybak in an interview with Town Times. The foundation of the dam was revealed to have other weaknesses, resulting in more rock removal than anticipated and more concrete to replace the rock.

“You never know until you start digging in,” Rybak said. When it is finished, Lake Beseck will have a new concrete wall on the upstream face that will “be good for a long time.”

Once the dam is fully repaired, rainfall will be necessary to recreate Lake Beseck, which is a man-made lake.

“As we move out of the rainy season it’s going to be harder,” said Amy Poturnicki, chair of the Lake Beseck Ad-hoc Committee.

The swimming season for the summer is completely lost and no beach passes were sold. “A lot of people were asking about the fish,” Poturnicki said. “In the main part of the water, the oxygen level is still 100 percent.”

Middlefield selectman Ed Bailey stated the same at the July 7 Board of Selectmen meeting. Citing the studies of limnologist Mark June-Wells, Bailey said, “The fish are not as impacted as we thought they would be” with lower oxygen levels in some parts of the lake reported in May.

The water level could go up by as much as two feet in July, but only if the rain delivers enough water for the lake and the downstream system. “I’ve been trying to fill it for weeks,” said Rybak, but “you have to let water through for the health of the stream.”

According to Rybak, Lake Beseck’s watershed area is approximately a square mile “which isn’t huge.”

The dam project itself is being funded by the state of Connecticut, which owns the lake, but Middlefield took advantage of the draw down for several projects, including dredging in the spring of 2014.

“It’s not our lake, but we’re spending a lot of money on it,” Bailey said.

“We’re cleaning their lake. We’re basically doing their work. Middlefield has been exemplary in doing this,” said Middlefield First Selectman Jon Brayshaw in a March interview.

Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company Chief Peter Tyc also is trying to install a hydrant south of the boat launch. The hydrant will allow the fire department an easier way to fill its pumper truck. Currently the truck is driven partially into the lake and a special hose collects lake water along with lake debris.

The town also is planning to install a new shelf along Lake Road for a guard rail and landscaping. How quickly that shelf will meet the lake will depend on the rain.

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