Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Flood of 2010

July 23, 2010

Corps say less chance of spillway discharge

RATHBUN — The Kansas City District, Corps of Engineers, along with state and local emergency management officials, continue to monitor what could be a record water elevation at Rathbun Lake.

The pool level at Rathbun Lake has been steadily increasing since Monday when it was at 921.84. Tuesday it increased to 923.82 and on Wednesday it was 925.82. Yesterday at 7:30 a.m. lake elevation was at 926.61. Rathbun Lake is currently 22.6 feet above normal and with no additional rain is projected to increase 1.5 feet by Monday night.

Kansas City District Chief of Emergency Management Jud Kneuvean in a Corps press release issued Wednesday night said the spillway could be topped between 8 p.m. yesterday to 8 a.m. this morning. The flow through the spillway will start slowly and may increase in the next five days depending on precipitation in the basin.

Phil Brown, Rathbun Lake operations project manager, Thursday morning said Rathbun Lake could start topping the spillway once it reaches the 926 foot level. He said no water is going through the spillway right now.

"Our estimation is, that it would take another foot, to maybe a foot-and-one-half above current elevation to put us into a condition where we're getting into any kind of significant flows going through the spillway elevation," Brown said. "Without significant additional rainfall, we don't expect flows over the spillway. It appears to be cresting right now."

Brown said as of Wednesday, the Corps started releasing water out of the reservoir and plan to increase those releases in order to maintain outflow control.

"And with our need to start releasing some water from the reservoir with the attempt to maintain control of the reservoir through our outlet works as opposed to the spillway, which is an uncontrolled situation. It's a free-flowing system," Brown said. "We have begun to release and increase releases throughout yesterday evening and into today,"

Currently, the Corps is releasing 2,400 cubic feet per second through the dam outlet, Brown said. The Corps has authority to release up to 3,000 cfs through the outlet, which coupled with a rain event could cause backwater flooding.

Brown said the current inflow of 6,500 cfs is decreasing and but allows for a greater coverage area. In 1993, 9-11 cubic feet of water per second flowed through the emergency spillway.

The Corps continues to coordinate with local and state officials on potential impacts to roads and other facilities in the area, Brown said. And informational releases are being provided to news outlets.

High elevations at Rathbun Lake has closed Island View Campgrounds and others areas around the lake. Currently, there is no boat access but the Corps is working with Rathbun Marina to get one ramp open by Thursday afternoon.

Appanoose County Sheriff Gary Anderson said formerly flooded roads and bridges will remain closed until they have been inspected for safety.

"Until we can have the inspection teams tell us that those bridges are safe, that's the reason those bridges remain closed," Anderson said,

More than 28 bridges in the county have been affected by flood water, Anderson said. And Highway 5 south of Cincinnati and the Missouri border is closed due to damage to a bridge.

Anderson said his office has taken proactive measures and notified those living downstream and in Rathbun as an exercise to keep an updated list in case of an emergency.

"So that if we have to notify people for evacuation of flooded roads due to additional rain, not because of the lake, but because of additional rain, we have that ability," Anderson said. "There's been a lot of speculation and a lot of rumors that are taking place that there's problems. That's why we're making theses calls. That's not the case."

Additional rain flooding local creeks and streams would impact one road and two or three homes in Rathbun, Anderson said. And additional rain would impact people living as far south as Seddan Bottoms.

"Right now we have a list of 50 to 100 homes that we would be notifying if we would continue to get additional rainfall," Anderson said. "And that primarily is because of access to their homes would be very limited."

John Glenn, with Rathbun Rural Water, said the drinking water treatment plant is not affected and is 100 percent operational.

"We think we're ready for whatever may be thrown at us," Glenn said.

If water passes through the spillway it would go around the southwest end of the dam and eventually reach Little Walnut Creek that flows north of the city of Rathbun, Kansas City District Headquarters Emergency Operation Center Battle Captain Seth Laliberty said. The flow would likely impact all public roads north of the town of Rathbun. Rathbun Dam continues to perform as designed and spillway discharge does not place the dam at risk.

Additional personnel have arrived at Rathbun Lake to assist, assess and advice other local, state and federal agencies. "Public safety is our first priority," Kneuvean said.

If anyone needs assistance due to issues with flooding they can call 1 866 434-4692

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Flood of 2010
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