Dam Feeling Pressure From Heavy Rainfall

Wednesday, April 16th 2008, 10:28 pm
By: News On 6

The Army Corp of Engineers would like to see the area side-step another round of severe weather this week.  Swollen lakes are finally beginning to recede after last week's rain.

The News On 6's Chris Wright reports more storms are supposed to move into the area Thursday night, but those who look after our dams say they could use a break from the rain.

Besides attracting birds, the water roaring out of Keystone Dam has also drawn a crowd of fishermen and onlookers.

The dam could remain open for a while.  Keystone Lake is now receding after cresting on Sunday, but it's still well above normal.

Twenty-five thousand cubic feet of water is being released from the dam this week.  That number is far from arbitrary; officials say a lot of factors go in to determining just how much water is let out."

"The stakes get a lot higher when the pool gets higher.  We want to make sure that everything is performing well," said Lake Operations Manager Kent Dunlap.

Dunlap helps decide just how much water is released.  He says that process has been especially difficult this week, because so many other lakes that feed the Arkansas River are also above normal.

"We also have a lot of the lakes downstream that are full, even some more fuller than we are. Then also, you don't want to create any downstream flooding, so it's a real balancing act," said Dunlap.

Kent and his team have monitored Keystone's level 24 hours a day since it passed 744 feet, and will continue to do so until it drops below that.  It's expected to happen this week and for those who work on Keystone, it can't come soon enough.

"I'd love to have about three weeks of no rain at all, that would be fine by me," said Dunlap.

The normal level of Keystone Lake is 723 feet, so plenty of water still needs to be released before it gets back to normal.

For more on area lake levels, click here.