Bonita Lakes to be Repaired

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The newest problem is erosion on the slope of the big dam that restrains the upper lake.

City engineer Monty Jackson explained, "If you notice, it's not all grass. There are some areas where grass isn't growing. The reason that grass isn't growing is that the lignite layer in there that has a high alkalinity or the PH of the soil is too one sided that it doesn't let grass grow."

Jackson said the solution is to dig out some of the lignite and replace it with normal dirt, then plant grass. A 70-30 grant from the state will help pay for it. As for the lower lake, plans are almost complete for what needs to be done to restore it to its normal fill.

"Right now, from what I've seen of the plans, we'll be driving some sheet piling around the spillway where the leaks are to try to cut that water off, just from age, I guess you say," said Jackson. "Water's finally seeping around that concrete structure. So we're going to put another structure in there to do that."

Meridian's mayor repeated a pledge he has made several times that the lower lake would be restored.

"We're going to repair the dam and raise the water level back up as far as the repair work will allow us to go on the dam and we're going to try to keep the trees at the top if we can," John Robert Smith said.

Federal money is in the appropriations committee's budget, but the mayor said it would not be released until the Congress adopts an overall budget for 2003.