By Todd Wels

Triplicate staff writer

County officials have secured the approval of two of the three required agencies to breach Lake Earl.

Del Norte County Community Planning Department Director Ernie Perry announced Wednesday that the California Coastal Commission had given the county an emergency permit to breach the lake, while the state Department of Fish and Game had made a verbal commitment to do so.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the sandbar that keeps the lake from draining into the ocean, has not yet indicated whether they will grant a permit, Perry said, adding that he had attempted to contact the Corps for more than a week.

Theres just nobody there, he said.

According to Perry, the Coastal Commissions permit would allow the county to breach the lake at any time, after the other two agencies grant permits.

Does that mean that the county will act immediately after receiving the permits?

We have to look at the tides and storm surges, Perry said, noting that he was unwilling to risk the lives of county personnel to get the lake breached quickly. It sounds simple, but its really not to be done frivolously.

As of Wednesday, the lakes level was at slightly above nine feet.

Perry said portions of Tell Road and other small county roads had been flooded out, and that water was starting to creep across Kellogg Road.

Perrys announcement came a little more than a week after the Board of Supervisors held an emergency session to consider breaching the lake.

Though Supervisor David Finigan argued that the county had the authority to breach the lake without going through the permitting process, a majority of the board disagreed, and they voted 3-1 to go through with the permitting process. Supervisor Chuck Blackburn was absent from the meeting.

The dissenting vote was cast by Supervisor Martha McClure, who argued that the county should make an Environmental Impact Report to the state before breaching the lake. She worried that if the county breached the lake without doing so, it could face additional fees including fines that it had not budgeted for.