Where's the water?
Residents want Meridian to fix Bonita Lakes
DRAINED LAKE – Meridian resident Joseph Smith looks Bonita's partially drained lower lake. Smith and others who visit the recreation area said they would like to see the water levels raised. The lake was drained to repair a leak in a dam. Photo by William F. West/ The Meridian Star
By William F. West / community editor
Sept. 23, 2002
Picnickers, walkers and other people want to see Bonita's lower lake look like a lake again.
Three lakes comprise part of the more than 3,000-acre city-owned Bonita Lakes Park just off Highway 19 near Interstate 20/59.
City officials drained the lower lake last year after the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality found leaks in the dam during a routine inspection in the fall of 2001.
The leaks are believed to have been caused by the roots of trees planted as a buffer between the lake and the adjoining Bonita Lakes Mall, which opened in fall 1997.
The city action turned the lower lake into a swamp-like area surrounded by mud, sand, silt and weeds. The lower lake's deepest spot once stood at 20 feet; that same spot was 13 feet in early May.
Officials with the Meridian Public Works Department, including director Monty Jackson and assistant director Hugh Smith, could not be reached for comment last week about plans for the lake.
However, city workers have monitored the lower lake and the dam for the past several months.
Nevertheless, some city residents said the city should do something to improve the lake and its appearance.
McAllister said he, too, understands why the city does not want to endanger anyone by refilling the lake until the dam is repaired.
Jennefer Harris, 24, of Marion, said she liked to walk around the lower lake and enjoy the breeze blowing over the water.
Harris said she would like to take her 3-month-old daughter, Maggie, on a stroll around the lower lake. But she won't go until the matter is resolved.
Harris and others spent Saturday afternoon at the nearby, more picturesque upper lake, which has plenty of water plus a mini armada of ducks and geese.
Joseph Smith, 30, of Meridian and a security guard, said he believes the drainage of the lower lake has also affected the fishing.
On Saturday afternoon only one person was fishing from a boat, which was way out in the middle of the lower lake.