Water management meeting scheduled at Wappapello
WAPPAPELLO — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff at Wappapello Lake will host a public meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Bill Emerson Memorial Visitor Center to discuss the facility’s water management program.
“This is our annual meeting on our water control plan,” said Wappapello Lake Operations Manager Bart Dearborn. “It gives the public an opportunity to address any concerns.”
The lake’s Water Control Manual was last revised in 2015, Dearborn said.
During the meeting, Dearborn noted, informational tables will be set up so visitors can learn about the various aspects of the lake’s water control plan.
Staff from the St. Louis District office, which oversees water management decisions at the lake, also will be on hand to speak about the plan.
After a short staff presentation, Dearborn said, a question and answer period will be held.
Wappapello’s water control plan, Dearborn said, typically doesn’t get many questions or comments from the public, except during periods of flooding and during winter drawdown or the spring rise.
Typically, the lake is drawn down to winter conservation pool beginning Dec. 15, and it is raised to summer recreation pool starting in mid-April.
Under the 2015 revision of the water management plan, those operations can begin up to 14 days before or after the designated dates, depending on water storage, weather and other factors.
“In the spring, interest focuses around fishing, and we try to maintain a consistent pool for the spawn,” said Dearborn. “In winter, we get a lot of interest from duck hunters” who must move their blinds as the water level drops.
Water releases, Dearborn said, are a balance between the lake’s needs and the benefits to those both upstream and downstream.
Even though recreational activities are the most common uses of visitors to the lake, Dearborn noted, it’s important to remember Wappapello Lake was designed and still serves as a flood-control reservoir.
“Our primary purpose is flood control,” he said. “That determines how the reservoir operates and how water releases are governed.”
Fishing, boating and other recreational uses, while important, must be secondary.
“We try to manage multi-use resources like those as well, but our priority has to remain flood control,” Dearborn emphasized.
Despite the scheduling of Tuesday’s meeting, Dearborn noted, he and his staff always are available to answer questions and listen to concerns.
“We want to communicate openly,” he said. “We’re here and we’re available all year long. Anyone is welcome to give us a call or come by.”
The lake’s operations office is located just south of the dam off Highway T, and they also can be reached at 573-222-8562 during normal business hours.