Cave Creek Dam Rehabilitation to be Expedited with Lake Draining

Ely, NV- The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) is expediting the Cave Creek Dam rehabilitation project at Cave Lake State Park with a safer and more cost-efficient solution. After extensive work and assessments on the dam, which falls to NDOW for maintenance responsibilities, project engineers have determined the most efficient and safest step forward is to temporarily drain Cave Lake as the dam is restored. Although the lake will be closed to visitors when the draining begins in late October-early November, the effort will ultimately reduce the timeline of the dam rehabilitation project by allowing construction to occur more quickly, potentially in one season, and provide visitors safer and improved access to the lake sooner than expected. Additionally, the project reduces the dangers for contractors working in high-risk elements and reduces the potential of unforeseen complications, therefore providing substantial cost savings.

In coordination with the Nevada Public Works Division, the Nevada Division of Water Resources (NDWR) and the Nevada Division of State Parks (NDSP), NDOW commenced the rehabilitation project in October 2019. The project includes enhancing the overall stability of Cave Creek Dam with an expanded spillway, increased stormwater storage
capacity, and other necessary long-term improvements.

To accomplish this upcoming phase of the project, engineers originally planned to maintain a minimum pool that would allow repairs to be done without draining the lake. However, engineers determined this route would extend the project through multiple seasons, and create higher risks for contractors, potentially doubling the final price of the project.

“We appreciate your understanding as we complete this critical rehabilitation project at Cave Lake to help ensure safe, memorable, and amazing recreational experiences for all,” said NDOW Chief Engineer Rodd Lighthouse. “Draining the lake, is the safest, fastest and most cost-efficient way to ensure all Nevadans and visitors can continue to enjoy the recreational benefits that Cave Lake State Park has to offer in the near future.”

Upon completion of the restoration project, the water level will return to its historical surface level, and visitors will be able to resume access to the lake and enjoy an abundance of activities, including ice fishing during winter months and fishing, kayaking, and swimming in the summer.

Before and during the controlled draw down of Cave Lake, NDOW will conduct a fish salvage to relocate the lake’s fish to Comins Lake where the Rotary Club of Ely’s Annual Ice Fishing Derby will be held in February 2022.

The Cave Creek Dam restoration project is anticipated to be complete in about 18 months with the lake back to natural levels, depending on water availability and winter snowfall.

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