Army Corps of Engineers holds special informational meeting for flood conditions

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Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Water Management Christopher Purzer

MANHATTAN — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held an informational meeting for the public to inform on the current conditions of Tuttle Creek Reservoir and the dam. (The full meeting video can be found below this story.

The main purpose of the meeting was to explain the corps’ flood control functions, the operations of the local basin lakes, and why the lakes have so much water in them. Along with the presenters, the public was able to write down questions for them to answer at the end of the presentations.

Chief of Water Management Christopher Purzer is the one in charge of the local lake basins and manages the releases from the lakes into the basin. He started his presentation with the current levels out at Tuttle Creek.  As of Wednesday morning, Tuttle Creek was at around 75 percent full with around 25 percent of the flood control space still available.

Tuttle Creek Lake’s level was at 1,126 feet on May 22. Photo by Brandon Peoples/KMAN

Perry Lake is currently at 70 percent, Milford Lake at 50 percent, and Clinton Lake at 40 percent. Purzer says the rain patterns of the last week have had a more dynamic effect than in the past.

The flood control zones are split into three phases.  Purzer used a graphic to show the flood control storage is based on current pool elevation and flows.levels at the downstream target gauge location.  Downstream flow increases as the reservoir pool elevation increases.  This affects how much water they can release.

The corps uses gauges from here to Kansas City to determine the release.  These gauges are along the Kansas River leading into the Missouri River.

Water gauges along the Kansas River

There is another gauge about 40 miles down river from KC they focus on in Waverly, Missouri.  This gauge is the first major flood plain down river from the local basin.  Purzer says they need to follow those gauges as too not release too much water down stream and flood those areas.

This is what has been happening over the past 90 days. There have been more water in control points downstream near the phase three mark of the flood control storage. This forces the dam to shut off the water release.

Since the beginning of March, the discharge of the Missouri River has been over 130,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). The river needs to be below that level for the Tuttle Creek Dam before the corps can start releasing water.  They will need around 60 days of the Missouri River to be below that 130 thousand mark to begin releasing water from the lakes.

Purzer also reassured the public the construction that has been going on at the dam has had no kind of impact on the high water levels.

Tuttle Creek Lake Operations Project Manager Brian McNulty says the conditions at the Waverly gauge is over 300,000 cfs as of Wednesday.  The current forecast shows the levels dropping off quickly, but there is rain in the next couple of days so they will be monitoring it.

Tuttle Creek Lake Operations Project Manager Brian McNulty

After Purzer’s presentation, McNulty presented the local impacts the current flooding has already caused.  At normal lake elevation, the lake covers 10,900 acres.  As of yesterday with the level being at 1128, the lake now covers almost quadruple that size with 47,806 acres.  Riley, Pottawatomie, and Marshall Counties are all being affected by this size growth.  Multiple roads have no road access and most all agricultural lease areas are inundated.

Recreational areas near the lake have also been impacted as well.  Tuttle Cove and Stockdale campgrounds are closed through at least June 23.  All boat ramps and marinas are also closed.  While boats are not prohibited from being on the lake at this time, the corps is requesting people don’t go on the lake due to debris.

After these presentations, McNulty and Purzer read from questions the audience had written down either before or during the meeting.

McNulty closed the meeting stating the meeting was for informational purposes only.  If they make any kind of announcement it will be through the appropriate means of communication such as emergency management and social media.

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