Watershed Improvement District

Early Days

The lake had been purchased from the original developers in 1970 by LABARCA (Lake Barcroft Association). The entity under which the lake and dam operated was known as BBI, Barcroft Beach Incorporated. This passed to LABARCA and another organization, BARLAMA (Barcroft Lake Management Association) was created to manage the lake. With the advent of the LBWID, it was necessary to negotiate an easement to grant authority for the WID to operate the dam and address environmental issues concerning the lake. This was done and WID assumed control of BBI assets.

The first three WID trustees set out to raise money to repair the dam. They succeeded in selling a $2M bond issue. At the same time, the Small Business Administration lent WID $500,000 at a low interest rate. This was used to purchase part of the bonds, which lowered the overall interest rate. With the financial situation resolved, work on the dam began. The Allis-Chalmers Corporation was contracted to fabricate a Bascule gate, which would control the lake level at a specified height above sea level by opening or closing the 12' gate as conditions warranted.

At the same time as the dam was being repaired, the WID took advantage of the empty lake bed to clean up the bottom of the lake and to remove tons of silt. Front end loaders scooped dry silt into dump trucks and cleaned out coves that had been clogged by the discharge from storm drains. The contractor worked long hours to complete the land excavation before the arrival of freezing weather. As many as fifty trucks at a time hauled away silt and moved fill to the earthen sections at the end of the dam. By November of 1973, the washouts were restored and partial filling of the lake began.

During the winter and spring of 1973-74, contractors started the final phase of the dam restoration. The dam itself was modified to house the new Bascule gate. Large hydraulic pistons were installed to raise and lower the gate automatically to maintain a constant water level. Electrical systems controlled the mechanisms to activate the pistons. In late April the lake began to fill and by mid-summer the lake was filled. Some might say that Hurricane Agnes was the best thing that ever happened to Lake Barcroft. The dam now conformed to 1974 specifications. About ninety thousand cubic yards of muck had been removed, and silt decanting basins constructed at Beaches 5 and 3.

Thus, the WID came into being and a new era in the saga of Lake Barcroft began.