Wildlife and water return to Lake Whetstone after draining accident

Wildlife and water has returned to one of Montgomery County’s largest lakes after it was accidentally drained almost dry during a construction project.

Lake Whetstone in Montgomery Village was supposed to be partially drained over July 4th weekend, but the county says their contractor wasn’t monitoring the process.

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"We have been very fortunate that we have not observed any impacts on the wildlife ourselves," said Christy Ciarametaro, Watershed Project Planner with Montgomery Co. Department of Environmental Protection.

Some neighbors were upset, angry, and confused by the draining of the popular lake.

"I mean it’s a big oops," said Tom Marvel, who lives in the area. "It’s pretty shocking to think that somebody would be that careless and that could happen to drain this whole lake."

Ciarametaro said after Monday’s rainfall, the water level of the lake is now a bit higher than it should be, so the drainage process will happen again Tuesday. She said county officials will be on site as that happens and that they have been closely monitoring the work underway after the accident.

The project is being done to repair a drainage system along Montgomery Village Rd.

"As part of that project, they have to excavate some of the material in the damn embankment over there, so for safety reasons, we’re required to lower the water level to four feet," said Ciarametaro.

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She said the work is being done by Triangle Contracting and the county has issued the company a notice of violation after the error made. When asked why the county is keeping the contractor on the project, Ciarametaro said there is confidence this will not happen again.

"We have a very, very strict policy in place now for continuing to monitor the contractor," she said. "We have a construction representative on-site all working days, so Monday through Friday and after this event, we are also going to have people here over the weekend."

The project is expected to be finished in November which is when the lake should be fully back to normal.

The drainage has also exposed a variety of trash in the lake. The Montgomery Village Foundation is responsible for that cleanup and will be at work this week.