So, as many of you already know, the lake levels have been dismal lately for a number of reasons.
If you don’t already know, the lake level is so low because in October of 2010, the Sabine River Authority lowered the lake to 165 MSL (3 feet below the legislated “minimum”) so they could perform some much needed repairs to the dam. Fair enough, I say, and not SRA’s fault at all. Stuff happens.
Thing is, they were counting on the fall/winter rains to bring it back up before the summer boating season began. If things had gone as usual, that would have indeed been the case. But as you probably already know, we had an exceptionally dry winter, followed by the dryest summer on record. So from 165, we watched the lake start to fall…and fall.
By July 1st of 2011, the lake had fallen so low that we had no choice but to close our boat launch. As if closing the boat launch on Friday of the July 4th weekend wasn’t bad enough, the lake level still kept right on dropping.
By November of 2011, we were down into 159 MSL. 159.761 is the lowest I remember seeing, and it was the lowest on record.
The low lake levels did make for some interesting discoveries (see “Home Fires”,https://southtoledobendsp.wordpress.com/personal-ramblings-of-a-ranger/home-fires/ ). But the low lake levels were terrible for the local businesses that rely on recreational boaters/fishers, and the low lake levels were also (from what I hear) bad for property values.
December brought some relief. Not only did we get some rain, but apparently the rains were placed such that the lake’s spillway could be closed. You see, the Sabine River Authority is required to keep flow in the Sabine River downstream from Toledo Bend Reservoir, to prevent saltwater intrusion into the Sabine River where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Like I said, apparently the rains were enough to keep the Sabine River flowing, thus allowing the spillway gates to be completely shut on the lake, allowing us to keep the gains we’d gotten from the rainfall.
In January, things looked even better. More rain, and the spillway gates still closed. As I write this, February 26, 2012, the lake is currently up to 166.37 MSL. The boat launch is back open, and business has picked up here in the park. I’m seeing boat traffic and people fishing on the lake again.
What’s more, last summer when the lake was so low, we had five floating docks installed on the point where our campground is, evenly spaced so that people in campsites can tie up their boats instead of having to get them out of the water at the end of every day. When the docks were built, there wasn’t water anywhere near them. Now that the lake has come up, the docks are almost floating. 🙂
I suppose at this point all we can do it cross our fingers and hope the rains continue…but things are definitely better than they were. 🙂
Hope to see you out there!