The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began lowering the pool upstream from Webbers Falls Lock & Dam 16 on Wednesday after clearing that part of the inland navigation channel of barges.
The move came after temporarily elevating the Webbers pool to 491.5 feet, which allowed river pilots to navigate areas where shoaling occurred due to flooding in late May. The Corps plans to lower that part of the navigation channel to an elevation of about 480 feet so the owners of two barges that sank during the flood and salvage crews can assess the situation.
Public Affairs Officer Preston Chasteen said it could take a week or more before the Webbers Falls pool drops that low. The procedure, he said, must be carried out incrementally to ensure no additional damage to the dam struck by the runaway barges or downstream properties.
Chasteen said the sunken barges prevent the closure of two gates at Webbers Falls Dam, allowing the uncontrolled flow of water that is estimated to be about 55,000 cfs. The Corps, he said, will coordinate with barge owners and salvage crews as they work to remove them from the river.