The signs that water levels have dropped dramatically are all along the shores of Halifax's Williams Lake.

There are exposed waterlines, docks that now sit far above rocky surfaces, and areas where residents once swam are now mudflats.

Those who live around the lake say it hasn't been this bad in many years.

"This has been the worst," says resident Margo Kerr, "where every single dock is sitting on the lake, on the bottom of the lake."

Kerr is a member of the newly formed Williams Lake Dam Association, a group of concerned residents calling on the municipality to act with an online petition.

"We think the lake was down five feet," says resident Murry Coolican. "Five feet is well beyond the normal." He says most lakes in the Halifax area drop about one foot.

Coolican is head of the Williams Lake Conservation Company, a volunteer non-profit established in 1968 for the preservation of the lake.

While the lake levels do rise and fall over a typical year, lately the drop has become more and more dramatic.

Part of the reason, Coolican says, relates to a lack of rainwater due to climate change.

But the situation is worsened, residents say, by a leaky dam that is badly in need of repair.

Williams Lake is man-made, created by early settlers who built a dam to collect rainwater in the late 1700s.

According to Coolican, the water was used in various ways at different times for businesses such as a sugar mill, a tannery, and an ice company.

But most recently, the lake has become a source of recreation and enjoyment for residents along its shores, and the wider Halifax community.

The lake is also now a big part of the recently established Shaw Wilderness Park, a 153-hectare nature reserve managed and owned by the municipality. The city bought the land, with the help of the province and community partners, at a cost of $6.6 million.

Coolican and Kerr say that's reason enough why the city should fix the dam.

The dam has been patched by various private parties over the years, but according to an engineer's report commissioned by the WLCC in 2005, it's at the point now where water from the lake is seeping under the dam at a rate of more than 3.7 million litres of water per day during the low water season.

"It's a seepage problem under the dam," says Coolican, "so you can see that there's water coming out the other end, even though the water doesn't reach the bottom of what's visible as a dam."

Before the recent rainfall that arrived with post-tropical storm Teddy, parts of Williams Lake normally used for recreation were so drained, they were impassable.

"By midsummer you could not get your boats, and canoes, and stand-up [paddle] boards in the water," says Kerr. "It looked like a moonscape."

The dam is now on city land. But freshwater lakes are also the responsibility of the provinces Department of Lands and Forestry.

Friday, CTV News received a response from city staff regarding the issue.

"Staff are aware of the local interest, but there are currently no plans to review the dam in Williams Lake," spokesperson Maggie-Jane Spray writes in an email response.

"Where this is not a municipally built piece of infrastructure, consideration of any work would need investigation and more information on its origins."

For its part, the department of Lands and Forestry says it's the "responsibility of the dam owner to ensure the dam is in good working order."

The municipal councilor for the area, Shawn Cleary, says he would like to ask city staff to investigate what it would take to fix the problem and what it might cost.

Cleary says he plans to bring up the issue after the municipal election on October 17, which will determine if he is re-elected.

"We'd like to see it fixed sooner rather than later," says Coolican, "because every year it becomes a bigger problem."

A problem both Coolican and Kerr are worried will get so bad that parts of Williams Lake may stay drained for good.