North Texas

Army Corps of Engineers Monitors Flood-Prone Areas in North Texas

Too much rain is causing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release water from several North Texas lakes.

Inside the Fort Worth federal building downtown, the Corps is keeping a close eye on all the precipitation and how it's impacting those lakes and rivers. While this seems like something North Texas hasn't had to deal with, the Corps says that's not the case. It's just been a while.

"This is a pretty typical event that we see every five to 10 years. Last event was 2007 like this," said Jason Vasquez, dam program safety manager for the Fort Worth District of the Corps.

Benbrook Lake is one of the 25 lakes the Corps operates in the Fort Worth District. It's currently about 1-foot above its normal elevation, something that hasn't happened in a number of years. The dam, according to the Corps' website for the lake, is releasing water, but the release is not like those at Lake Ray Roberts or Lake Lavon.

Those releases are normal for a situation like this and Vasquez said it's exactly what the system was designed to do.

"We control our regulations using down-stream gauges to make sure that the water we're releasing does not exceed the channel capacity," Vasquez said.

In other words, they make sure the releases aren't causing problems downstream. There's plenty of water already in area creeks, streams and rivers.

"If you have the opportunity to open, you get a little more space for flood waters to come in," said Kenneth Myers, with the Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Grapevine.

For the first time in years, the two floodgates at Lake Grapevine were opened at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Normally just a trickle, Denton Creek leading away from the lake is now filled with rushing water.

"Obviously, when you release water you have to be aware of water safety downstream and the currents," said Myers, "and any impact downstream and the elevation coming up there as well."

Lake Grapevine is now 9-feet above conservation level, leaving many parking lots, boat ramps, picnic groves and parks submerged.

Many campsites are closed, and only two boat ramps remain open – both of them built for high water.

One of them, at Murrell Park, was built just last year, when lake levels during the drought were low.

The Corps is monitoring the situation around the clock and is inspecting dams to make sure they're doing their jobs.

Vasquez said residents shouldn't be worried about the releases.

"There's always a concern of flash flooding with these types of events," Vasquez said.

That's exactly what happened along Old Granbury Road in southwest Fort Worth. It's a known low-water crossing, equipped with warning signs and lights. Just before noon the roadway was completely passable, but as the heavy rains moved in, the water was up and over the roadway as late as 2:30 p.m.

Most people heeded the warning signs and turned around, but a lot of people still drove through the high water.

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