It's the time of year, again, when boaters get antsy to launch their boats for the season. And as usual, there is much speculation about lake levels.
It’s the time of year, again, when boaters get antsy to launch their boats for the season. And as usual, there is much speculation about lake levels.
The first answer is, no, the lake was not dropped below the FERC-mandated guide curve earlier this year to aid in the removal of the old Hurricane Deck Bridge, according to Alan Sullivan, consulting engineer with Ameren Missouri at the Bagnell Plant.
“The low lake level was the normal drawdown for that time of year and was not impacted by any bridge work,” he explained.
There also was conjecture earlier this year that the lake fell below normal winter levels when Ameren was forced to release more water than usual at a faster pace to meet energy demands. Lake levels reached the low point of 654 feet above sea level earlier than usual in January and February, but did not fall below the mandated guide curve of 654.
Sullivan points out that the guide curve, established as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing process, does not change unless there is a federally authorized reason.
“We did, however, conduct a FERC license-required archeological study when the lake reached 654,” he explained.
The lake levels bottomed out at 654 in mid-February and will begin climbing again starting in early April. The guide curve goes up from 654 to 659 by mid-May so Ameren has the lake nearly full for Memorial Day weekend.
“That, of course, depends on spring rains, which we have not had yet,” Sullivan said. “But there is plenty of time for that.”
In fact, the lake as of Tuesday was a 655, which is an entire foot above the guide curve for this time of year.
Old-timers will remember that in the winter/spring of 1977, the lake was drawn down to 646.25 due to ice jams on the Missouri River that caused extremely low river levels that threatened the cooling water intakes at Ameren’s Labadie Power Plant.
“We ran water from the lake down the Osage and into the Missouri to hold the river levels up just enough to keep Labadie in operation,” Sullivan said. “They have since modified their intakes and shouldn’t have that issue again.