Officials urge caution with high waters on area lakes

Sam Rayburn Reservoir
Sam Rayburn Reservoir(KTRE)
Updated: May. 29, 2021 at 3:52 PM CDT
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SAM RAYBURN RESERVOIR, Texas (KTRE) - Recent rains and flooding caused area waterways to rise like at Lake Sam Rayburn.

Starting Saturday, the Sam Rayburn Reservoir begins 24-hours-a-day power generation. The hydropower releases are about 8,000 cubic feet per second passing down to the Lower Neches River at the B.A. Steinhagen Lake and Town Bluff Dam.

“Sam Rayburn is sitting a little bit over 10 foot high,” Lake Manager Reece Nelson said. “The Dam was designed to go to this level. We’ve been monitoring it on a constant basis. The dam and the powerhouse are performing as designed. We have no issues.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates the reservoir where officials say flood gate releases could also begin over the weekend.

“One of the missions of Sam Rayburn is flood control,” Nelson said. “The Angelina being the only regulated river between us and the Neches. We hold back for basically as long as we can. Up to a certain point, the Lake was designed such as that we need to start releasing water.”

Nelson said normal pool elevation at Sam Rayburn is 164.4 feet and as of Saturday morning, the lake sat at 174.8 feet, with the potential to break a record by the middle of next week.

“Projections right now without an additional rainfall is that we’re going to rise about another half a foot, which would be for Sam Rayburn a new historic high pool level,” Nelson said.

That projected level is still below the spillway which is at 176 feet. But with this being Memorial Day weekend, some parks and recreational areas around the lake are closed.

“All of our boat ramps with the Corps of Engineers are closed,” Nelson said. “We still do have our partners on the Lake, all the marinas, Powell Park, Shirley Creek and Jackson Hill that are open and the boat ramps are accessible. In Angelina County, Castle Boykin that’s accessible as well.”

Nelson said high waters create unfamiliar sights on and around the lake even if you visit often.

“The high water changes the shoreline,” he explained. “They’ll be more submerged objects that you’re not used to navigating around. There could be flooding hazards. We want everyone to be cognizant of that. Make sure if you are out on the water, you’re aware of where you’re at, wear a life jacket and making sure you have a safe and sober boat operator while you’re out there, as well.”

Multiple campgrounds, boat ramps and day use areas surrounding Lake Sam Rayburn have been closed due to floodwaters. For additional information on facility closures, click here.

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