Keeping Up With Mother Nature An Around The Clock Job At Eufaula Dam

Wednesday, May 20th 2015, 7:27 pm
By: Tess Maune

With more rain moving in, the Army Corps of Engineers is likely watching the water more closely than anyone, and it's an around the clock operation at Eufaula Dam to protect homes from flooding.

Right now we're about 13.5 feet above normal, and the Corps of Engineers is letting out 61,000 cubic feet of water per second from Eufaula dam, which could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every 1.5 seconds.

In 1990, the water was coming out three times quicker - nearly 1.5 million gallons per second - and Engineer Operations Project Manager, Jeff Knack said it could happen again.

5/12/2015 Related Story: Water Pouring Out Of Eufaula Dam Most In 25 Years

“Depends on the rain we see this weekend, we're waiting to see,” he said.

Knack said the Corps is having a hard time keeping up with Mother Nature.

“It's been difficult to get water off. We've gotten a little bit off and then it rains again and it comes right back up,” Knack said.

Heavy rain left areas south of Lake Eufaula to flood days before the dam started releasing water into the Canadian River.

The Corps has to be careful about how much it lets out, because when that water meets up with the Arkansas River, it could be detrimental to towns closest to the Oklahoma/Arkansas state line.

“Basically there's a pinch point in Van Buren. We try to regulate the flows there so it doesn't get out of its river banks there,” Knack said.

He said, around the clock, workers are checking the dam at several different places every hour.

Knack said it's functioning just as it was designed to do 50 years ago, and last summer's yearly maintenance evaluation, he said, came back with no problems.

There were some problems for fisherman, though - more casting than catching.

But that wasn't the case Saturday, when Ben Kline shot cell phone video showing a few people each carrying out a big mess of catfish.

It was posted to Facebook and it's been viewed more than a million times.

The video gave one group such hope that they drove two hours from Mustang, in hopes of catching a big cat.