Property owners at Lake of the Ozarks and along the Osage River are advised to take appropriate measures to protect their docks as Ameren Missouri begins the annual winter draw-down. Being prepared helps minimize the overall effects of lower lake levels and cold weather.

Property owners at Lake of the Ozarks and along the Osage River are advised to take appropriate measures to protect their docks as Ameren Missouri begins the annual winter draw-down. Being prepared helps minimize the overall effects of lower lake levels and cold weather.

"Winter conditions including ice and freezing pose risks for dock owners both above and below Bagnell Dam," said Jeff Green, Ameren Missouri’s shoreline management supervisor. "To minimize the impact of changing conditions, dock owners can obtain up-to-date information on lake water levels and river flows either online or by calling our lake level daily report."

Hourly information about lake water levels is available at AmerenMissouri.com/Lake. Water levels are also updated daily at 573.365.9205.

Lake and river level fluctuations occur for several reasons. At the Lake, Ameren Missouri generally lowers the water level during winter months to about 654 feet above sea level—or six feet below the full reservoir level of 660 feet—to reduce the possibility of flooding during spring rains. The Osage River level also fluctuates when Ameren Missouri's Bagnell Dam releases water during the draw-down and to meet the demand for electricity..

Ameren Missouri offers the following tips to help both Lake of the Ozarks and Osage River dock owners prepare for the winter season:

Below the dam, remove docks from the Osage River before freezing occurs.

Ensure that hinges, pins and other connections linking docks to seawalls or piers have the flexibility to follow water level fluctuations.

Lengthen cables to allow docks to drop as the lake or river levels drop.

Use a dock deicer to help protect docks from ice damage, be aware that a deicer may not provide protection from large ice sheets and blocks.

•Ask neighbors to keep an eye on the dock or retain a local dock builder or similar contractor to care for the property when the site is unoccupied.

Bagnell Dam water releases may occur at any time and may result in swift currents and rapidly rising water levels in the Osage River. A warning siren will sound from the dam before generators start and stop.

With proper permits, winter draw-down is also a good time to complete shoreline stabilization projects.  Shoreline property owners should get their completed applications in now for evaluation prior to the low water season. Rip-rap installation, seawalls and seawall repairs typically take place now as lake levels drop and before fish spawning begins in March. More information about shoreline stabilization and permitting forms can be found at AmerenMissouri.com/Lakeor by calling our Shoreline office at 573-365-9208.