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Lakes, rivers are on the rise

Lakes, rivers are on the rise

February 24th, 2018 by Jennifer Middleton in Texarkana News

Area lakes and rivers are rising with the recent rainfall, with those levels expected to increase over the weekend.

Wright Patman Lake and Millwood Lake are each at least five feet above the conservation pool, according to officials, with Patman expected to rise another 10 feet.

As of Friday afternoon, it was at 224.98 feet, close to 5 feet above the winter conservation pool of 220.6.

Mike Bransford, lake manager for Wright Patman, said they are expecting it to reach 235 or more.

"We did have the lake pulled down prior to the rainfall to do some repair work on the shoreline at Piney Point," he said, adding that flood control operations are working exactly as designed.

"We catch the uncontrolled water and release it in a controlled manner," Bransford said. "That's exactly what we're doing now, catching the main flow and discharging it."

The lake reached a record high of 254.5 on May 10, 2016, breaking the May 9, 1966 record of 252.6.

Currently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is releasing 10,000 cubic feet of water per second, the maximum amount, he said.

The high water levels have affected a small section of the Clear Springs Park, but it's closed for winter. Other areas closed as of Friday include the bridge leading to the main entrance of Clear Springs and Elliott's Bluff. He said he did not expect high waters to affect the campgrounds and that the spillway will not go up more because they are operating at capacity.

"It's 100 percent fishable," Bransford said. He added that those who choose to fish under the 991 bridge in Redwater may be affected, as that area floods when water gets high. "The 235 mark will inundate that bridge," he said.

For those who fish from the bank, he said they should be OK, depending on how low an elevation their fishing spots are located.

Several flooded areas are closed at Millwood Lake, with additional locations expected to be added over the weekend.

"More rain is anticipated tomorrow and more runoff is coming in from the rain," said Steve Spicer, operations project manager with the corp's Little Rock District.

At Millwood, the River Run West boat ramp and campgrounds are closed, along with Wilton Landing and White Cliffs campground.

"We still have bank fishing below the spillway," he said.

At Dierks, Lake Loop 1 and 2 at Jefferson Ridge are closed, along with Blue Ridge campground. At Gillham Lake, Little Coon is closed, along with De Queen campgrounds, Pine Ridge, Story Creek and Rolling Fork.

"The reason we close them is for public safety," he said. "Some of these roads lead in to flooded areas and we want people to be safe."

Millwood is releasing water at 30,000 cubic feet per second, with the lake level at 262.65 as of Friday. The lake is operated with a conservation pool of 259.20.

"We are making all the preparations possible to prepare for a high water event," Spicer said. "We will continue to do so until the rain is over."

Both Spicer and Bransford emphasized that those using the lake while it's above normal levels should use caution and be aware of flowing debris, such as logs and limbs and to always wear a personal flotation device.

For up-to-date information on Wright Patman Lake, go to bit.ly/2sSHKjO. Millwood's levels and closures are posted at bit.ly/2sRe1rn.

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