The Army Corps of Engineers is now releasing 100,000 cubic feet of water per second from Keystone Dam, which is close to 750,000 gallons of water every second. It’s an effort to bring the Keystone Lake back to normal after all of the recent rain.
When the gates chance at the dam a horn sounds, signaling the river will soon rise. Twice on Monday, the siren rang out as the Corps released the most water from Keystone Lake since 1993.
“Even with this significant release, it's not historical,” said Keystone Lake Manager Travis Miller. The historical release and top release that we've ever had was in 1986 and it was over 305,000 cubic feet per second, so significantly more than what we're putting out today.”
Miller says the river still has room for plenty more water, so folks with homes and businesses downstream have no reason to panic.
“Channel capacity downstream is about 105,000 cubic feet per second, so there's very minimal impacts downstream,” said Miller.
He says the purpose the dam is to allows the lake to hold back water, which reduces flooding impacts from Sands Springs and beyond.
“[The dam] feel like it comes to life at times like this because it's working hard right now,” Miller said.
Even with the dam churning hundreds of thousands of gallons of water every second, Keystone is still 25 feet higher than normal. And it's expected to rise at least another foot because Miller says more water is coming in from upstream than what's going out downstream.
He says it’s not a flooding emergency, but people still need to be careful if they’re anywhere near the rising water.
“We want people to be cognizant. We want people to be aware and obviously don't get too close because this is swift moving water, so we want people to be safe,” said Miller.
Miller says they’re taking it day-by-day and doesn’t have a timeline on how long the Corps will be making the large releases or when the lake will be back to normal levels.