Twin Lakes plan to protect fish from salt water

City construction project halfway through

Posted: Monday, January 08, 2001

There's actually a place in Juneau that could use more rain.

Twin Lakes, which depends on runoff from uphill culverts, had to be drained partially in September so the city could replace metal gates that keep out Gastineau Channel's salt water, which was threatening fish habitat.

The gates, near the middle of each lake, were corroded and leaking. The south gate had a 2-foot wide hole in it.

"We were losing fresh water at low tide and gaining salt water at high tide," said city engineer Rorie Watt.

In December the city installed a stainless steel plate about 5 feet in diameter to seal off the south lake from the channel. It has been slowly filling with rainwater since then.

City Parks and Recreation Director Kim Kiefer is not sure when the south lake will regain the 10 feet of depth lost since fall. She hopes the gate on the north lake, which is about 8 feet below normal level, will be fixed by spring.

"The lakes are wonderful locations that get used year-round," Kiefer said. "It's one of the few places in winter that people like to walk because of the bike path in the sun, and in the summer they're used for fishing, boating, picnicking and other recreation."

The two human-made lakes were developed from tidal mud flats and marsh in the late 1970s after construction of Egan Drive. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game contracts with the DIPAC hatchery to stock Twin Lakes with "catchable-sized" king salmon, said state sport fishery biologist Mark Schwan.

"In the past there's also been some cutthroat and rainbow trout, but the main fish are the king salmon," Schwan said.

DIPAC director Jon Carter is waiting to hear from the city before moving about 3,000 kings to the south lake. DIPAC will add another 9,000 or so kings the week before family fishing day, usually held in June.

The $35,000 city gate project also will give crews a chance to clean culverts, improve beach slopes and control milfoil a weed that can kill other lake-bottom plants and destroy fish habitat.

The weather will play a major role. Cold and dry is best for applying adhesive materials to help replace the north gate while warm and wet refills the lakes more quickly.

And if it gets real cold and the lakes freeze over, Kiefer warns residents to stay off the ice.

"We don't encourage skating there at any time," she said. "It's a safety issue."

Mike Sica can be reached at

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