Lake expected to rise over 931 feet

Thursday, May 5, 2011

As spring rains continue to fall over southwest Missouri, area lake levels continue to rise. Later this week, Table Rock Lake is expected to crest at 931.7 feet, which is only around two feet lower than the record level of 933.25 feet recorded in 2008.

"At 7 a.m. on Monday morning the lake was at 930.15 feet," said Greg Oller, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Table Rock Lake park ranger. "It had increased from 10 p.m. Sunday night.

"We can't predict at what level the lake will crest at with the rain that is still coming, but we can predict what it will crest at by the rain that is on the ground now," said Oller. "We don't know when the lake will crest though. That is usually a couple days out from the prediction."

According to Oller, all of the lakes located in the White River system are currently full. Those lakes, including Table Rock, are unable to hold the inflow coming from Beaver and Bull Shoals lakes.

"We don't have a whole lot of flood storage," said Oller. "With the rain in the forecast, we know that as the lakes fill up they will need to pass along the inflow coming in."

On April 26, the Corps began releasing 68,000 cubic feet per second out at the gate in addition to 15,000 cubic feet per second through hydro power. Sunday morning, the water release was scaled back to 5,000 cubic feet per second at the gate.

"We are still releasing a total of 20,000 cubic feet per second," said Oller.

Even though water continues to be released to help ease the pressure on Table Rock Lake, rising lake levels have already impacted three Corps recreational areas, Moonshine Beach, Mill Creek and the Old Highway 86 access near Blue Eye.

Rising lake levels are also impacting marinas and boat docks located in Eagle Rock and Shell Knob.

"Right now we are out of business," said Gene Stimble, Campbell Point Marina owner. "The lake has come up so much that access to the shores is limited, and the Water Patrol and Corps have told people to stay off of the lake unless they have to be out there.

"This is deja vu from the last time the lake was up," said Stimble. "Lake business is at a standstill until the rain stabilizes."

In 2008, flooding kept Table Rock Lake from reaching normal levels until August, which dramatically impacted lake-based businesses, said Stimble.

"Labor Day weekend was our biggest weekend that year," said Stimble. "We don't blame the Corps, because when you receive 15 inches of rain over four days there is not much anyone can do. We are just trying to make lemons into lemonade."

While waiting for the lake to stabilize, Stimble plans to improve the Campbell Point Marina by constructing a walkway that will reach the shore.

"The only damages we have had were to some of our utilities that have been covered by water," said Stimble. "Once we get the walkway up, we will be operating. We plan to move forward without looking back, so that we are ready when the boaters return."

As Stimble and other marina owners use down time to complete improvements, they must remain aware of spring weather warnings. The increase in lake levels has caused many of the area floating marinas to rise above the tree line, which increase exposure to wind and storm damage.

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