Does inaction of local, elected and paid leaders place Branson area at risk?

What a difference a couple of months makes. Most of the questions an Ole Seagull gets about Lake Taneycomo these days is about how low it is and why is it that way. Less than a couple of months ago it was about how high the water in Lake Taneycomo was getting and why they weren’t getting the water out of Table Rock Lake quicker.
On April 14, prior to the rains that were to come in the following week, Table Rock Lake’s elevation was 913.84. A week later it was 930.99, up over 17 feet, on its way to a record high crest of 935.47. That caused a release of 68,000 cfs from Table Rock Dam and all that followed.

As this is being written the level of Table Rock Lake is 924.00. If we had a repeat of that same April rain event right now and the lake rose 17 feet that would put it over 941, but that will not happen because the Corps would release enough water through Table Rock Dam to keep it from happening. In April it took 68,000 cfs when the event started from 913.84. How much would it take starting from 924? Does anyone really want to find out?

In an Ole Seagull’s opinion, the question of the hour should be “Why aren’t they getting the water out of Table Rock Lake quicker?” In fact it has been the question of the hour since the high water in 2008. In the opinion of an Ole Seagull, it’s because of the impotency of our local community leaders, elected and paid officials at the city and county levels (leaders) regarding their efforts to get the problem solved that the answer to the question presents and continues to put our citizens, their property and Branson’s economy at risk.

The simple truthful answer to the question, given the current lake levels, is, “‘Chapter 7 of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Water Control Plan – for the White River Basin’ restricts the amount of water that can be released.” According to the plan, water cannot normally be discharged through Bull Shoals Dam that will cause the level of the White River at Newport, AR, located about 187 miles southeast of Branson, to rise above its Regulatory Stage. From April 15 through November 30 of each year that stage is 14 feet. The actual current level is 14.16 feet.

How does that effect the levels of Table Rock Lake in the current situation? Dramatically!

Between 7:00 p.m. June 2 and 7:00 p.m. June 3, the level of Table Rock Lake, with approximately 20,000 cfs being discharged, dropped about .6 feet or at a level of approximately six feet every ten days. Between 10:00 a.m. on June 24 and 10:00 on June 25, after they cut the releases back, the level dropped .27 or about 2.7 feet every ten days. If the release levels of June 3 had continued through June 20, the level of Table Rock Lake would have been close to 917.0, its Seasonal Conservation Pool level for this time of year, and quite a bit different from the current 924.00.

It’s interesting to note that the Regulatory Level of Newport is 21 feet from December 1 through April 14. “Now hold on Seagull, are you saying that our ability to release water from our lakes goes down during the very season that the need to release the water is greatest?” “Absolutely, that’s what the plan says.”

“Well, if that’s the case, and the discharge of water up to the 21 foot level doesn’t cause any damage to property or risk to life, why didn’t our leaders initiate some sort of formal action to try to get the plan amended to facilitate reducing the levels of our local lakes during the very period of the year when their flood control capacity is most needed, prior to April of this year?”

The answer to that question would be interesting. What is critical however, is the answer to the question, “What concrete actions have our leaders taken since April of this year to try to rectify their failure to act between April 2008 and April of this year?”

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