Mint Springs Park Construction Picks Up in Warm Weather

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Winter weather slowed the makeover for a popular Albemarle County swimming lake at Mint Springs Park. But since the weather has gotten warmer and the snow has gone, construction crews are finally making progress.

This week, those crews are wrapping up the 24/7 task of pumping water out of the park’s upper lake over the past month. The county monitored the process to make sure it was safe for people and the environment.

The lower water level allowed construction crews to build a new bridge to the beach and replace the swimming dock with a new deck.

“We replaced it with a composite decking instead of wood. Hopefully it'll last longer and give better traction on the surface,” said Tim Hughes, Albemarle County parks athletics and program supervisor.

The lake's surface posed a problem at the start of the project.

“During the drawdown phase, it was so bitterly cold that the lake was frozen over then,” Hughes said.

The pump worked around the clock for two weeks to lower the lake levels. It started sucking the water up from the bottom, where there's less oxygen and less chance for fish to survive. The county says, because of that, not a single trout died during the whole construction process.

Fish should find a better underwater environment when the project is finished.

“While we have it down, we're going to take advantage of it and drop in some fish habitat in different places in the lake to promote the health of the fish,” Hughes said.

Within the week, the county plans to start refilling the water in the lake, which should take about a month depending on the weather.

Crews will divert a stream from the lower lake into the upper lake to help speed it up.

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