With recent rains falling in Henderson County and the lake levels making a come back, boaters may actually be able to utilize Lake Athens this summer.

As of Dec. 29, Lake Athens levels were 54 inches below the normal level, according to Lake Athens Inspector Mose Trimble. Luckily, after last week’s reporteded three inches of rainfall, the lake has come up six inches.

The Athens area received another approximately two inches of rain during Wednesday’s showers which, according to Trimble, should bring the lake’s levels up at least four more inches by this week. Trimble said he was unsure of exact numbers on Friday because of the saturated absorption fill.

“The saturated absorption fill is where the area around the lake is dry and has to get wet before the lake begins to fill up,” Trimble said.

The end result, Trimble said, would be that from now until May, if the Athens area receives at least 24 inches of rain, it should fill the lake back up to normal water levels.

Lake Athens’ normal reading is 440 feet above mean sea level. The level was 437.38 on Jan. 1, 2006.

The levels gradually became lower throughout the summer. The Athens Daily Review reported the lake was 14 inches below normal during the month of May; 29 inches low in June; and 40 inches low by August.

According to City of Athens Utility Director Don Herriage, the lake levels are still several feet from the point where officials would be concerned.

He agreed with Trimble, saying that about 24 inches of good rain by summer should fill the lake back up.

As recently as 2004, Athens entered June with over 24 inches of rain recorded. That was followed by 8.68 inches in June of that same year. In 2000, through June, almost 36 inches of rainfall was reported.

Trimble said, unlike Cedar Creek Lake, which gets a bigger run-off, Lake Athens receives less run-off because of it’s bowl shaped. He added that very few water sources run into Lake Athens, but it does receive a little bit of run-off.

Although Lake Athens has been affected, Trimble remains positive about the 28-month drought.

“I want the lake to fill back up and I don’t think it’s unachievable,” Trimble said.

City officials report 90 percent of the city’s water comes from the lake and 10 percent comes from the city’s wells.

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e-mail kharris@athensreview.com

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