GREEN MOUNTAIN FALLS, Colo. — It hosts countless weddings, art displays from around the globe, and the soul of a mountain town.
“For our community, we love our trails, but the lake really is the little heart of the community,” said Jane Newberry, the mayor of Green Mountain Falls.
That little heart had a little break over the weekend when the outlet on the east side of the lake failed, draining the lake by several feet.
“Sunday morning I was down at the lake early and it was quite obvious something was very wrong,” Newberry said.
Crews fixing the outlet suspect water broke behind the outlet liner. That water then created an eddyline, creating a current that ate away at the wall, creating a separation of the outlet and the bank wall, draining the lake into Fountain Creek.
“We’ve known that over time, because of the age of it, it’s old, things happen, but there were definitely no predictors of, ‘Okay, this summer is it,'” Newberry said.
The outlet has already gone through multiple patches. This new one costs around $5,000 and will last four to six years. The cost was completely donated by the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation.
“We’re doing an extensive patch to seal up that entire area about 20 feet on each side,” said Tom Hughes, the owner of Water on Marrs, the company contracted to fix the lake.
Hughes said his patch will be done by Thursday. Thanks to a steady flow from Fountain Creek this summer, he estimates the lake will be full again a day or two after his work is done.
It’s a patch on top of other patches from decades past. The east wall is deteriorating; pieces that have broken off have been revealed by the newly-lowered water level in the lake.
“In a perfect world, we’d be able to take out [the] whole concrete wall and match the stonework around the rest of the lake,” Hughes said.
The perfect world costs around $100,000, according to Newberry, who says the town has a project in preliminary design that would fix the wall and fix the outlet that’s estimated to last 50 years.
The project would also give a more natural look to the east end of stone rather than concrete, as well as adding an ADA-accessible fishing pier.
“We are mostly dependent on property taxes, and I just cannot ask the homeowners to foot that kind of bill,” Newberry said. “That’s a huge bill.”
In the meantime, Newberry is applying for various grants to bring in more cash for the projects, while starting them in pieces at a time.
“You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time,” Newberry said.