With its largest storage facility, Foster Lake, nearly empty because of the lack of rain over the past two years, Idyllwild Water District has decided to conduct some maintenance of the lake.

In a special Oct. 29 morning meeting, the board unanimously approved General Manager’s Terry Lyons’ recommendation to use Idyllwild Backhoe from among five proposals to dredge Foster Lake.

Idyllwild Backhoe’s bid of $25,500 was the lowest of the five submissions to remove 7,500 cubic yards of silt and sand.

The work should take about two weeks, perhaps three, Lyons told the board. If significant rainfall interrupts the dredging, IWD may need to postpone or cancel the project.

“We can only do this about every 13 years,” said Board President Warren Monroe. “We must do it now and it will add about an acre-foot back to capacity.”

Director John Cook did raise the question about the possibility of expanding the lake’s storage capacity.

In response, Lyons explained that the State Water Resources Control Board has issued a permit for 40-acre-feet of storage. (An acre-foot is 325,821 gallons.) The lake and dam was engineered to accommodate 54-acre-feet. To increase storage beyond the permitted level, IWD would have to resubmit an application for more storage capacity.

In parts of the lake, about 4 inches of standing water can be found. This is essentially equivalent to the ground water table, according to Lyons.

J.P. Crumrine can be reached at [email protected]