The science of managing local lakes and reservoirs

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LAKE SOMERVILLE, Tex. (KBTX) - The Houston area is seeing rising waters in some neighborhoods, not just because of the endless rain, but from reservoirs being forced to release water downstream.

The Brazos Valley has several dam-controlled lakes in our area. KBTX wanted to know more on the when water gets released.

Lake Someville is filling up and fast. Monday, the lake was at 249 feet. That's up 11 feet from the normal level of 238.

"We are anticipating going over the uncontrolled spillway in the next couple of days," explained Lake Manager Randall McCartney. He said they aren't releasing water yet.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Reservoir Control decides when and how much water they need to release.

"They look at downstream. They look at what's projected to come in and whenever the timing is right they give us the amount our gauge should be open. That's what we open them up and release," McCartney said.

There's lots of area under water here around Lake Somerville. The Lake Somerville Marina is cut off because of the rising water. Much of the access to the lake is expected to be closed Labor Day weekend.

Lake Bryan is still closed to the public. After recent rains it's only up about one and a half feet. The lake doesn't have creek or rivers flowing into it.

"It's very controllable and we'll let a very small amount out over a very long period of time. It goes into a tributary of Thomson creek. Right now Thompson Creek doesn't need any more water," said
David Werley, Bryan Texas Utilities Executive Director of Business and Customer Operations. Lake Bryan was built for cooling a power plant.

Over in Somerville, Burleson County's Emergency Management Coordinator and sheriff's deputies met at the lake Monday after so much rainfall.

"That was just to let everyone in the community understand and know that you know this is what the dam is here for and we're doing what it's designed to do," said McCartney.

If you've noticed some of that top soil shifting on the dam, Lake Somerville crews say, they're looking into, but it's not a serious issue.

"With all the rain that we’ve received, it’s just the top soil and stuff like that has kind of slid off a little bit. Nothing to be really concerned with. You know we’ve got crews from Fort Worth down looking at it and they’re going to take every precautionary measure that we can," said McCartney.

"And that’s why we’ve got the gates closed and you know we’re a little bit ahead of the game now that we’re going to be going over the uncontrolled spillway," he said.

As of Monday the gate was still open to Lake Somerville Marina area entrance.

Lake Bryan is expected to reopen for Labor Day weekend.