County lake levels remain low

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David Minton/DRC
The pier at Willow Grove Park in Lake Dallas stands surrounded by dry land on Saturday. Water levels in Lewisville Lake are far below normal, creating pockets of dry land on what were once sand bars and submerged islands and leaving plants once at the waters edge high and dry.
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Water levels at Denton County’s most popular lakes remain below normal because of the drought across Texas, posing potential problems for boaters and other recreational users as warmer weather approaches.

All the lakes maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer on the Trinity River system are below their conservation pool, except Navarro, said Clay Church, public affairs specialist for the Corps’ Fort Worth district. Navarro, he said, is just a hair over its conservation pool.

“We haven’t recovered,” he said. “The rain hasn’t happened to refill those lakes.”

Corps officials plan to start a campaign in about a month to inform people about the low lake levels, Church said.

“If they go out there today, they may see stumps and run into things that may usually be under water,” he said.

Lewisville Lake, which provides water for both the cities of Dallas and Denton, was at 514.27 feet above sea level last week, about seven inches below the 521.08-foot level on the same date in 2011.

“It’s low because a majority of the state of Texas is in drought,” he said. “[But] we’re releasing water. That’s where the city of Dallas is getting their water, so their citizens can be able to bathe and drink and whatever it is they do with water.”

Ray Roberts Lake, which was at 624.74 feet above sea level last week, is normally at 632.50 feet above sea level.

Sherry Williams, marina operator for Ray Roberts Lake, said the current low levels are not affecting boaters there yet.

“They dredged the entire harbor before they built the marina back in 1994, so [at] the closest boat slip to the shore, there is at least 15 feet of water,” she said. “Where you see a lot of boathouses sitting on dirt now we have prepared for that ahead of time. We’re wanting water like everyone else, but no, it is not causing us any problems yet.”

The Corps of Engineers operates nine reservoirs or lakes on the Brazos River and eight on the Trinity River and supplies approximately 35 percent of the water for the state of Texas. The Corps owns the bowl that holds the water at each reservoir and other entities are permitted to have access to the water. From Canyon Lake near New Braunfels, for example, the Corps releases water in the summer for tubing on the Guadalupe River.

Church said the purpose of the lakes is two-fold — to minimize damage from flooding and to provide a steady water supply.

The recent drought, however, is taking its toll.

“If we don’t get any rain here, getting on into a hot spring and summer you can see pool levels continue to fall,” Church said.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.

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