RUSHFORD — The water level is going down at several area lakes, as managers prepare for the coming onslaught of winter.
Rushford Lake is slowly being drawn down, with the process beginning on Tuesday, said Daryl Stevenson, chairman of the governing Rushford Lake Recreation District Commission.
“Our de-watering schedule is solely to accommodate our work crew activity,” Stevenson said. “Our plan again is to do concrete, brick, and mortar maintenance on the dam.
The concrete dam, upward of 35 feet thick, is skinned with a special brick. The lake is to be drawn down around 40 feet, he said, so the ice puts pressure on the thicker base of the dam.
“Our dam is 650 feet between the canyon walls and 115 feet high, so there is a significant surface to examine and, if necessary, repair,” he said. “Crews will resume the work of the past several falls. This year much of our work will be done across all 650 feet after about 35-45 feet of water is released.
“Our rate of de-watering will vary,” Stevenson said, “a few feet at a time, then stop for days of work from a barge, then more water release. Not a smooth and even draw down and not an easy place to work.”
Work will continue until freezing temperatures start, he added, as the special mortar used cannot cure properly below freezing.
Work this year will not be as intense as last year. In 2018, workers from L.C. Whitford Co. replaced the two large valves in the base of the dam, which were original to the dam.
CUBA LAKE will be drawn down on Nov. 1, said Scott Barrey, lake manager for the Cuba Lake District.
Cuba Lake will still offer recreational activities through the winter. Ice fishing is popular on the lake, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation, with dozens of tents erected to protect fishermen when the ice is thick enough to support the weight.
Walleye and panfish are common targets for fishermen. Walleye can grow to up to 20 inches in the lake. Various panfish species inhabit the lake, including yellow perch, rock bass, bluegill, pumpkinseed and black crappie. Yellow perch is the most common, however.
Cuba Lake was constructed in 1858 as a water supply for the Genesee Valley Canal. For decades before, canals had been an important way for farmers to get their goods to market, but within 20 years the canal system was shut down in favor of railroads.
Rushford Lake was constructed in 1929. Like Cuba Lake, Rushford Lake was built to regulate water flow, this time on the Genesee River. At the time, Rochester Gas & Electric used the river for hydroelectric power to light the area’s cities and towns. The company later decided to sell the lake and the dam, and the State Legislature created the Rushford Lake Recreation District in 1981 to maintain the dam and regulate lake use.
Almost since their creation, both lakes were used for recreational purposes, as well as their planned industrial uses. Cottages were quickly built and fishermen flocked to the lakes — before 1900 along Cuba Lake, and within a few years of Rushford Lake’s construction.
ALLEGANY STATE PARK officials also announced Thursday an end to boating activity. The Friends boat launch on the Allegheny Reservoir has been closed for the season, park officials said in a Facebook post.