The water levels at Saylorville Lake and Lake Red Rock are being held higher by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in an effort to help ease the flooding on the lower Mississippi. Corps spokesman, Ron Fournier, says it’s part of a region wide effort at flood control.
Fournier says the flood crest has already come through on the upper Mississippi, but to the south the major tributaries like the Des Moines River, Iowa River and Ohio River are flowing into the Mississippi. He says the flows are creating the potential for record flooding in the south on the lower Mississippi with the potential for levies breaking and levies overtopping.
Fournier says the outflow at Lake Red Rock has been cut back to 10,000 cubic feet per second, compared to the normal flow of 25,000 cubic feet per second. He says they’ve already had calls from the public asking why they aren’t putting out more water to keep the pool low.
Fournier says the cutbacks in outflow will help with the flooding in the south and he says when Red Rock is cut back, Saylorville also has to be cut back as the two reservoirs work in tandem. A spokesman at Saylorville Lake says the cutback in flow there has raised the lake level about 15 feet and that has forced the closure of a couple of boat ramps.
Saylorville is forecast to rise another three feet. Fournier says they are concerned about keeping Saylorville and Red Rock to full so that there might be local flooding if there is a lot of rain in the watershed.
“We want to make sure we keep those pools as low as possible, but those reservoirs are constructed for flood protection and that’s what they are being put to use for,” Fournier says. He says the weather service’s forecast for the next week doesn’t look bad for a lot of local rainfall.
The flooding is expected to start cresting on the lower Mississippi next week, and last for 10 to 14 days.
You can find information about Lake Red Rock and Saylorville Lake levels, inflows and outflows at the Corps’ website at:www.rivergages.com.