U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opens floodgates at dams across the Ozarks

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 7:23 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - The United States Corps of Engineers (USACE) opened flood gates at Beaver Lake and Table Rock Lake Dams amid heavy rain Thursday.

The corps opened all seven gates at Beaver Lake were open after it exceeded the flood pool at the elevation of 1,131 feet.

Through midday Thursday only two floodgates were open at Table Rock Dam, but as water continuing flowing from Beaver, along with additional rainfall, seven of the ten floodgates were open by 5 p.m.

“We’ve probably seen a total of eight inches of rain,” said Tomas Rofkahr, an engineer making adjustments at Beaver Lake. “We’re at the point now the ground is over saturated and it flows into our rivers, streams, and flood control reservoirs like Beaver Lake.”

When the floodgates open at Table Rock and Beaver Lake it is a sight to see, especially for out-of-towners.

”It’s impressive, it’s huge,” said Sharon Struck, a Californian who was at a loss for words. “All the lightning and thunder it was awesome, because where we are there’s a drought, so we don’t get to see thunder and lightning very often.”

Monitoring those flood pools and gates is a complex job,

”Our water managers will begin 24 hour operations where they’re looking at these lakes and measuring how much water is going into them every minute of everyday, as the rain falls,” said Rofkahr. ‘So we can gauge how much of the flood pull we can use before we have to start releasing water.”

The gates at Beaver Lake were releasing 43,000 cubic feet of water per second, equivalent to an entire Olympic swimming pool every two seconds. If additional rainfall continues, downstream effects are always the biggest concern.

”Keeping the river under control is the important thing, no loss of life, no property damage down stream,” said Rofkahr. “But as we release water the intent is to bring the lake level down safely, keep the river under control, and move that water all the way down the white river system to table rock, bull shoals, and beyond.”

USACE teams continually monitor lake levels 24 hours/day and will adjust floodgates accordingly.

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