Thursday, June 14, 2007

WREG: Drought causes lakes' draining

Story by Dennis Turner

Arkabutla Lake, Miss - Most of us like to beat the summer heat in the water. That's why local lakes and reservoirs are so popular. But this year, you're likely to find more heat... and a lot less water.

Ann Betterton spends hours at Arkabutla Lake in the summer... but this year she says you might as well call it the "Arkabutla desert". "This is the second time I've seen it like this, but not this low."

The lake is so low swimmers say it's not easy to have fun here. "Very low, it's not usually low like this." said Melinda Gould who came to the lake to swim with friends.

The same conditions plague almost all the area lakes. Arkabutla, Grenada, Sardis and Enid all sit at record low levels. Lake levels here read from nearly 7 feet to more than 16 feet below normal. We're told even Pickwick is low, though not quite as bad, and Horseshoe lake in Arkansas is drier than normal.

All these reservoirs, are supposed to regulate flooding and conserve water. "We operate sorta like your bathtub, ok? On the lake, we draw it down to make way for the spring rains. When the spring rains come we have water in the lake and we can also let water out for the farmers." said Ernie Lentz of the Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District, which operates the major North Mississippi lakes.

But this year the rains didn't come, and we'll soon find ourselves in the dry months of July, August and September.

How bad is it? More than half the boat ramps here look high and dry. What will it take to fix this? You won't believe the answer. Rangers here tell me it would take a hurricane or tropical storm to hover over us for a day or so to get this lake where it needs to be.

And as much as folks here want their lake back.. they're not ready for anything THAT drastic. "I don't wanna see no hurricane but I know we need some water, bad. ‘Cause the ground's so hard you can't do anything. Our garden's not doing good at all." said Betterton.

In fact, the lakes have had dozens of events like fishing tournaments cancel because of the lack of water.

But believe it or not, this dry spell does have a silver lining. "Next year fishing should be excellent because all these areas tthat [sic] are exposed where vigitation [sic] is growing and that's food for the fish." said Lentz.

But that's NEXT year. Now, you might think the low water might prevent more drowning problems, but rangers tell me they have the most drowning cases when the water's unusually high... or unusually low.

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1 comment:

Cookeville Weather Guy said...

our lakes are low, too! Almost 15 feet below what would be considered normal.


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