Local News

Lake Sam Rayburn water levels highest in 20 years

Nacogdoches County, Texas (KETK) - The past few weeks it seemed like the rain would never end.

Rains have affected creeks and ponds in our area but Lake Sam Rayburn has taken the brunt of it.

Lake Sam Rayburn is a hot spot in East Texas for fishing and boating.

But in some case that's come to a stop because the water is higher than it's been in since the early 90s.

"We're actually about nine and a half feet (above average) as of this morning, and as of this morning we've reached the second highest pool of record for Sam Rayburn Reservoir at a little over 174 feet," said Justin Shelby, USACE Recreation & Business Line Manager for Lake Sam Rayburn.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) are constantly checking the water levels around the dam.

When needed and possible, water will be released albeit in a slow and gradual process.

"These conditions are not normal, for the reservoir to be at this elevation," said Shelby. "But as far as the function of the reservoir and how we operate, all those plans are spelled out and the lake is doing what it's supposed to do, protecting folks down stream."

In addition to checking the dam, the USACE have been checking on the various parks on the lake.

Currently a shorter list would be the parks not closed.

Among the closed parks and marinas is Hank's Creek Park.

"I check it in the morning and it's higher than it was the night before and when I check it in the afternoon and it's higher than it was in the morning," said Evelyn Letney, Employee at Hank's Creek Park. "So it's just steadily coming up and our park over there, Hank's Creek, is just completely flooded."

Until the water recedes they have no business.

Other parks like Shirley Creek Marina in Nacogdoches County were more fortunate, but they know it could have been worse.

"I feel really terrible for them I mean I know this has happened before and I couldn't imagine," said Shana Patrick, Manager at Shirley Creek Marina. "This is our livelihood, this is our business, this is our passion and if we were shut down that would be heartbreaking." 

Thankfully geography was on Shirley Creek's side as most of the park is uphill from the shore.

Though the flood waters have altered their day to day operations.

"It's definitely affected us as far as people coming through the main road but we've kind of just detoured everybody around," said Patrick. "It's covered up back here by our marina so they can't get to that but we have a little boat that we're kind of transporting people back and forth."

Leading into January 11 the lake water had been rising rather quickly.

"Within the last week or so the lake was coming up at four to six inches in a 24 hour period, that has slowed significantly and this morning the lake had come up two inches in a 24 hour period," said Shelby. "So it's getting closer to peaking."

But with more rain on the way could spell trouble for the parks and marinas not yet closed.

"We're going to go with it, it's all we can do," said Patrick. "It's going to take a lot more than that to stop us."

For more on the current conditions on Lake Sam Rayburn visit http://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/samray/index.asp for up to date lake level statistics as well as a list of which parks are open.

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