OUR VIEW: Lake has its woes, but it’s still our lakeGosh darn it, Lake Mitchell is our lake. We suspect many towns would love to have one just like it.
Those who have lived in this city for a few years probably do not fondly reminisce about the taste of drinking water drawn from Lake Mitchell.
Until 2003, the city’s water supply came from the lake, and sometimes that water just wasn’t very good. When the lake ran low, water was siphoned from the James River, and that was … Well, we’ll just leave it at that. No reason to dredge up those foul memories.
No doubt, Lake Mitchell has its problems.
Blue in the springtime, it often assumes a jade-colored hue as temperatures spike in the summer.
Sometimes, the late-summer algae builds up to a disgusting muck that attaches itself to any boat or beast that dares venture onto certain sections of the lake.
And its water, while quenching, has a taste that leaves plenty to be desired. Our hunch is that grocery stores saw a dip in bottled water sales the moment Missouri River water began flowing into the city through a pipeline back in 2003.
For years, the lake has been a conundrum for city officials, who wish to clean its waters via proposals and contraptions now too numerous to remember.
But for all the baggage that accompanies Lake Mitchell, we sometimes can’t help but pause and admire its beauty as it reflects a springtime sunset.
And we still are regularly drawn to it for recreation, whether on ski boats, kayaks or simply by visiting its fine swimming beach or fishing areas.
Eighty-five years ago this week, Mitchell voters approved a $350,000 bond issue that eventually paid to build a dam on Firesteel Creek and create Lake Mitchell. Historic photos of the new lake, taken in the 1930s, show a rural, hilly and rather barren locale that doesn’t seem too inviting.
Today, it’s an oasis. Tall trees, green lawns and gorgeous homes line its shores. Most public access areas are clean, and public fishing spots are modern and convenient.
Yes, Lake Mitchell gets a bit green in the summer. And, thank goodness, we don’t have to taste its pucker-inducing water anymore.
We dammed it in 1927, and we’ve often damned it since.
But, gosh darn it, Lake Mitchell is our lake. We suspect many towns would love to have one just like it.
The people who chose to spend that $350,000 eight decades ago made a wise decision. It’s a big chunk of change today, and it was a fortune back then.
This week, we all should take a moment to think of how that decision has positively affected our city.