U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Sam Rayburn Reservoir’s current level is not cause for concern

Corps will release flood control gates when it is safe to do so

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Sam Rayburn Reservoir’s current level is not cause for concern
An image of open flood gates at Town Bluff Dam, located downstream from Sam Rayburn Reservoir. (Source: Ranger Floyd Boyett, U.S. Corps of Engineers)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Sam Rayburn Reservoir’s level is holding steady at 171 feet. The Corps of Engineers is monitoring the lake and report that it’s doing its job - flood control.

Still, some East Texans wonder why no water has yet to be released from Rayburn.

Near the dam, Jasper resident Donna Hopper expected to see the flood gates open.

“But it’s not," Hopper said. "And I know more water is supposed to come so it worries you.”

Those working at the Sam Rayburn Dam and Reservoir report with confidence that the current 171.80 elevation is nothing to worry about.

“We are a flood control reservoir,” said Lynden Wood, a natural resources specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “We are here to hold back essentially overflow and floodwaters from heavy rainfall, so that way, the downstream systems are not as heavily impacted as what they would be as if Sam Rayburn wasn’t here acting in that capacity."

Downstream is Town Bluff Dam at Steinhagen Lake, near Woodville. Images were taken Friday morning as water left the flood gates. Lake manager Floyd Boyett explained in an e-mail Town Bluff is not a flood control lake, so engineers must release what flows in. Current releases will continue at Town Bluff for the next 12 to 24 hours.

Then the next step at Sam Rayburn will be determined.

Wood said, “Factoring all that and it’s safe to do so, they’ll consider possibly releasing from the gates of Sam Rayburn or continue to release via power generation."

That power generation release is scheduled between four and seven in the afternoons to serve power companies in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas.

Bottom line, no flood stage release will happen until engineers are certain

"If we were to release it, would be safe enough to do so,” Wood said.

His statement gave Hopper the confidence to say, “They know what they’re doing.”

Aside from watching the lake level, Sam Rayburn crews are facing the closure of eight boat ramps. A two-week dry out to prevent cave-ins of asphalt from heavy equipment is needed before repairs can begin.

With a beautiful weekend expected, boaters are advised to be cautious of floating logs and submerged debris.

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