If it seems that someone's pulled the plug on Lake Elkhorn, if the water level seems unbelievably low -- well, it is.

Since last month, the shoreline of the 37-acre lake has been receding, leveling off almost 2 feet, baring mud banks and rocks, and prompting concern and phone calls among area residents.

Blame it on the Columbia Association, which has lowered the waterlevel 18 inches to repair cracks in the concrete spillway that facesBroken Land Parkway.

The spillway -- or the waterfall -- sufferedmuch damage last summer because of the drought, according to Chick Rhodelhamel, CA's environmentalist.

"Hot and dry broke the straw onthe camel's back," said Rhodelhamel. "Many pieces of concrete on thedam were dry or exposed to sunlight for the first time in 17 years.

"It was amazing. As soon as we had this heat condition, it really started cracking."

The $50,000 repair job involves filling cracks -- some up to 1 inch wide -- with epoxy. Work is expected to be finished before spring.

"Had we done this in July, a nice hot breezy night in July, we would have gotten complaints of, 'What's that smell?'" said Rhodelhamel.

Fish and other sea life should not be affected by the lower water level, he said, because they don't breed in winter.

Rhodelhamel said he's received 30 to 50 phone calls from joggers, bird-watchers and nearby residents who were concerned that a leakhad sprung in the lake.

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