The revenue loss caused by the lake's low level Brown estimates to be around $100,000. "It's $5 to put a boat in, and it's $5 for adults, $2.50 for kids 8 to 15. Kids 7 and under are free. So two adults coming out here, fishing and launching a boat, it will cost them $15, if they could launch it. But they can't this season, and it really impacts us greatly, because we are not in a position to create the new physical facilities that are needed to accommodate people. We were going to try to pour more launch ramp this off-season. We poured 100 feet of ramp last year in preparation for this season, but the water did not come up onto it.
"There's an interesting irony in this low-water situation," Brown adds. "We start our season here in February or March. Whether or not we start in February or March often depends on whether the creek is running too high where it crosses the road as you enter the lake. If it's running too high to have people crossing it, we have to wait a little bit until it subsides. Well, that hasn't been an issue lately. We typically close down season at the end of October, but in a year like this, where attendance is going to be falling off and interest is going to be falling off, we will probably close it earlier to try to save some expenses."
And Lake Hodges presents some personal irony for Brown. "When I started my career with the city," he recalls, "one of the first challenges that I had was opening up this lake -- in 1976, as I recall -- because it had gotten 'so big.' We'd had many years of drought, and it had been closed since 1957 because it was so low. Then we got some rain, and the lake filled up a bit, and we reopened it under pressure because people were coming to us saying, 'Hodges has filled up. Reopen it!' This year I'm retiring, and one of my final challenges is operating this lake while everyone is lamenting how low it is. The irony is, it's higher now than it was when we reopened it in 1976, when everybody was saying it was so high."