Starting in January, Ameren Mission will begin the annual winter drawdown of Lake of the Ozarks. This process helps provide room in the lake to handle larger spring rains. Property and dock owners at the Lake should take steps now to winterize their docks.

Starting in January, Ameren Mission will begin the annual winter drawdown of Lake of the Ozarks. This process helps provide room in the lake to handle larger spring rains. Property and dock owners at the Lake should take steps now to winterize their docks.

"Winter weather conditions, including ice and freezing temperatures, pose risks for dock owners both above and below Bagnell Dam," said Bryan Vance, Ameren Missouri’s shoreline management supervisor. "To stay informed about 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."

Fluctuations in Lake and river levels occur for several reasons. Ameren Missouri generally lowers the water level at the Lake 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 drawdown and to meet the demand for electricity.

Information about lake water levels is available at AmerenMissouri.com/Missouri/LakeLevels. Water levels are also updated daily at 573.365.9205.

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 drawdown is 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 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/Lake or by calling our Shoreline office at 573.365.9208.