, Muskogee, OK


April 21, 2008

<b>VIDEO: </b>Fort Gibson Lake’s high level has reason

People have speculated that Fort Gibson Lake is held higher and longer than other lakes in the area, such as Grand and Hudson. This column will explain the process of how we operate our lakes as a total flood damage reduction system.

The primary responsibility for Fort Gibson Lake — and all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water resources projects — is to reduce or prevent flooding of private property.

The three major rivers in this area are the Grand (Neosho), Verdigris and Arkansas rivers. The Grand River feeds three lakes in Oklahoma —Grand, Hudson and Fort Gibson. Grand and Hudson lakes are operated by Grand River Dam Authority until they reach what is known as “flood levels.”

At that point, the Corps manages the water in the flood pool.

During times of heavy rains, a team of Corps of Engineers’ personnel in the hydrology division in the Tulsa District Office monitor all the drainages that run through Oklahoma. They receive information from stream gages that monitor water flows and rain gauges that capture local rain amounts.

Watch video below.

These numbers are used to determine which of the 44 lakes that Tulsa District manages for flood control should release water, as well as how much should be released to minimize impact to private property downstream.

Simply considering how many feet a lake is above normal can be misleading. The more important number is the percentage of flood storage being used. Grand and Hudson lakes have far less flood storage than Fort Gibson.

As an example, either Grand or Hudson could be 10 feet above normal, but using a much greater percentage of flood storage than Fort Gibson at 15 feet above normal. Fort Gibson Lake can rise 28 feet above normal pool level before private property is affected, while Grand can rise only 5 to 8 feet before affecting private property.

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